Often photo enthusiasts/hobbyist ask me "How can I become a better photographer?". It is a tricky question to answer because photographers' styles/tastes are different and my likes could be your dislikes. To give good advice I ask people to bring me photo of what he/she think is good photograph. Then I can give technical tips on how to achieve similar results without asserting my tastes.
Today I am going to discuss shadows. See the example below.
For my personal tastes, I do not like harsh shadows cast below the camera plushy. It distracts from the softness of the stuffed toy.
I would use harsh shadows for garage bands performances to convey the gritty and dark feel but not for children and pet photography.
As a comparison, the photo below's shadow is much softer and I typically use this type.
Photo by and sold at OneLateNight.etsy.com