Originally Posted by photomoof
No one can teach you how to take a good photo (I don't completely believe that but it sounds official).
Originally Posted by hepcat
I am certainly glad that I didn't follow that advice as a youngster. I'd have missed out on SO much. One of the things I've been able to learn over the years about photography is that there are two areas of knowledge: those things I know, and that it's important to know about those things I don't know. The few things I know, I know well. There are, however, lots of those things I know that I don't know... and that's where the instruction of others is invaluable.
Knowledge is passed down from one person to another, sometimes consciously other times unconsciously. Some people, like the OP, seek a teacher, other times someone else might seek a pupil. There is a pleasure in teaching as well as being taught new skills. I don't deny at all the value of teaching and learning in photography or any other field.
The reason I value the saying, "your photos are your only teacher [in photography, or maybe even life], is for a very specific phenomenon.
We're all very quick to judge the photos of others, but when it comes to our own photos, we're indecisive. We like or dislike the images of major photographers, and yet for some reason we find all our own images to be 'good' or even 'great', we don't dislike any of our own photos...
If you look at online photo hosting sites, people have thousands of photos uploaded while if you visit the site of a major photographer, they show 20 plus or even less photos. The magnum photo member's portfolio is around 50 photos plus if they have their books posted online, while an average flickr user has more than 500 images uploaded.
And when it comes to printing, once again the answer to how should I print is very much in the pictures that one wants to print. If you have a well-exposed negative of strong content and form, a straight print is good enough like all of HCB's photos. On other side if you have a well-exposed negative of a strong content but a straight print will not be good enough, like Ansel Adam's Moonrise Hernandez, then once again its the photographer who was there in the moment of capture who can replicate the same condition on the print, not the oblivious master printer who was not there when the image was captured.
The OP should seek a teacher and good luck to him finding one for free, but before that he should contemplate by looking at his photos and prints carefully and finding out where his lacking, and from personal experience I can say that 99.99% of the time, the problem is with the photos not the prints.