I've always noticed that when it comes to my own work (and that of others), what I find the most aesthetically pleasing simply isn't what many other people prefer.
Based on my experience on social networks, including those specifically targeting higher-end photography such as 500px, the majority gravitates toward overtly beautiful landscapes and women as well as cute animals and children, perhaps unsurprisingly.
Of course, I can't say that there's something particularly "wrong" with this preference because much of what I shoot also involves similar categories. But the problem with stunning landscapes, for instance, is that Nature does most of the work for you. In this case, the photographer's job is to supersede a tourist with a good smartphone by choosing unusual angles and by ensuring a near-perfect composition.
And simply being there with your camera all the time. Just in case.
Thus, it's about access, by and large: my living in the mountains translates into having greater opportunity to photograph wondrous scenery more so than someone in a metropolis.
If you overlook the price of isolation, this approach might be too easy. In contrast, I am especially drawn toward photographs that are beautifully minimalist, have subtle references, or feature the everyday in a surprising way.
I also prefer images that show something that would conventionally be considered ugly and repulsive in a beautiful way--and not as a matter of shock value.
For instance, remember (no pun intended) my memento mori series from a few months back?
When the dogs found a half-decomposed deer carcass just off my favorite hiking trail, I had to pull them away in fear of disease. This particular deer was killed by a pack of wolves, a biologist told us. You can imagine the smell and the maggots in the heat of summer--or maybe you better not.
Yet I knew that if I only breathe through my mouth, I could document the beautiful way in which the sunlight hits the back of the dead animal's eye socket or the geometric purity of lines in its rib cage.
So, it's pattern recognition. No more, no less.
Every image-maker is a minimalist: it is up to him to notice, isolate, and present.