Photography is important. Because it is apparently accessible, it's often confused with a hobby. Sometimes it's confused with a profession. More often than not, both the hobbyist and the professional take pictures which don't last.
More often than not, pictures don't last because the photographer had little, or no, emotional connection to them. The picture may be technically interesting or even dramatic, but if it doesn't reflect a connection it won't have any emotion. And without emotion, it won't last. The best and most lasting photographs are intimate ones.
Photography is about sharing your experience of the world. It's a form of memory made external. It's a way of allowing others to access your memories, as well as to enhance their own. It's a way of making your memories more accessible and sometimes making them more accurate. It's neither more nor less invasive than any observation. It's often times more communicative and evocative than words. Good photographs are a constantly evolving form of art. As the viewer revisits a photograph, new things and new awareness is brought to that memory. Good photographs are always both contemporary and historical.
Being a photographer compels a person to be more observant and more objective, and to participate in a more empathetic way with the people around him or her. Taking good photographs requires anticipation of conduct. Anticipation requires empathy and awareness. Taking good pictures requires attentive participation.
Paintings are inspirational. Our awareness of the artist's ability to see can be overwhelming, and insightful, but hard to put into practice for ourselves. Photographs, on the contrary, allow us to more readily take the photographer's vision and apply it to ourselves. The photographer serves as our representative in ways other artists cannot.
All art is autobiographical. All creativity stems from the soul of the creator. Photography is just more honest about that and the more intimate the subject, the more exposed is the artist.
Lasting photography is about seeing the universalities of life, and allowing both subjects and viewers to find their larger place in humanity.
You need to be a better photographer because you care about the things you photograph and you want your vision to last. You need to be a better photographer because your subjects are worthy, and they deserve the very best you have to offer.