In Camera & Lens: The Creative Approach, Ansel Adams wrote about the "creative" and the "factual" approaches to photography. He observed that the difference between the two was "one of purpose, sensitivity and the ability to visualize an emotionally and aesthetically exciting image." A good composition will create interest, "and this spurs the desire for comprehension."
Of course, Ansel Adams is one of the grand masters of landscape photography. What some may not fully appreciate is how Adams created his now iconic images. To the surprise of some, the final print was not a straight print directly from the negative with no modification. At least half of Adams' creative process is attributed to his mastery of darkroom techniques. In the darkroom, he dodged and burned the image, and experimented with chemical and paper processes in order to create the tonal relationships he visualized when he took the picture.
For me, the question is not whether the final print was created in the chemical darkroom and the digital lightroom, nor is it whether the print is a "straight print" directly from camera to paper, or if it has been modified through a creative process. Rather, it's whether the print conveys an emotionally and aesthetically exciting and interesting image, and whether it maintains the viewer's interest over time. These are questions I consider when taking the picture and creating the photograph.