I love photography. I always have and I always will.
But a recent class I took led by Tod Merica (whose website is here) made my appreciation for taking photos rise to a new level. He essentially condensed a three week course into about two and a half hours, and that alone is reason enough to respect the guy.
Anyway, I learned some very simple things about cameras that I never considered before. For example, it never occurred to me to take my small point and shoot camera out of automatic mode. Even the most inexpensive cameras have a plethora of settings that you can play around with to give your photos different effects.
I learned a lot of other stuff as well, but I can't relay all that information here (it isn't technically mine). I would, however, recommend that any amateur photographer interested in learning more about the field take some sort of class on it. If it's a good one, you'll learn tons of valuable information and, obviously, improve your photography skills.
My mother is looking into buying me my first DSLR camera now. I hear that the Canon Rebel series is good for beginners.
Hopefully, one day, I'll be the proud owner of one of these!