I think that whenever you are starting a project, photo essay, or an assignment you will have better success if you shoot with intent. Sure it’s great to find a hidden gem, a surprise photo, but you’ll be more successful if you know what the message is before you start shooting. I’m not saying you should editorialize the shoot; rather, you need to know the story. Let me give you an example: Let’s say you are shooting homeless people; easy enough, right? Well, no. What’s the point? Why are you shooting them? What is the message? Are there more or less homeless people than before? Is the story people helping homeless people? Is it living conditions, etc., etc. If the story is that the number of homeless people has increased, well an image of a single homeless person doesn’t tell the story very well if that’s all you see. Always take a good look at what is around you before you even click the shutter. This way, you will get a true assessment of the situation and better insight into what it the best photo story to tell. If you shoot with intent, you will focus on the images that best tell the story.