A friend of mine has a teenager who was wanting to post an image for his avatar in one of the chat sites online, I was sent a regular portrait image and took it immediately into Photoshop. Because there were harsh background shadows, I selected the core of the subject (asking: who is this person, what in this image is 'telling'?) then worked within minimalist "less is more" parameters, after all - don't you agree that this image gives enough visual information for a teen online - I do.
As much as I like realistic images, I have a great deal of fun editing digital images in Photoshop - the 'dry brush' being my absolute favorite tool. I think a lot of what makes an image eye-catching is the deliberate thought process while it is being composed. Balance, exposure, cropping, texture, color and of course subject.
Almost without editing, my images are usually pretty well composed in my camera's viewfinder, framed in what I consider to be the most pleasing way. But, often when I am faced with the 'whole' in the editing window - I will crop it way down - and find the results more pleasing because often - just a hint of what IS... really, is all we need.