Talking to a lot of photographers have led me to the conclusion everyone has a different perspective on what looks good. Being active in other image sites I see a certain pattern of how people present their work. Their style becomes a very individual thing. Even though certain rules apply to all, The content,tonal or color range is a individual thing. what looks good to the photograher becomes a trademark of his work,. I like BW and for me many times my tones are more even through out then the next person who really goes from dark to light with more contrast. I think this is what makes it so interesting and personal. We can learn a lot about exposure control, but I believe we all find our individual taste in how we crop,what we see as interesting and how we want that image to present itself. I experment a lot, but I usually end up with the same look somewhat. I just find that of some interest.
Beauty (or art) is in the eye of the beholder. There are times I know I've captured something special, and those are usually the images that I can't sell, but they bring me a certain kind of gratification or reward.
But to address what you're saying, I think that you might need to let yourself go more often if you keep coming back to the same look over and over again.
I make major changes in my style every few years. Different bodies of work created using different kinds of camera equipment. Maybe that's the key. Changing equipment to keep your photographic style fresh. I use to purchase a few new lenses and sell the old ones I wasn't using every few years. That kept my photography fresh and creative. I've gone from 35mm to medium format with a little 4x5 thrown in and then to digital. When thinking about it, nothing changed my style as much as changing formats which included purchasing the CoolPix 990. I now had unlimited financial freedom to experiment and create. Combined with the swivel LCD, it changed the way I saw the world around me.
Simply put, for me the easiest way to change styles and stay fresh was to change the equipment.
Always enjoy listening to peoples perception not only about their changes in life, but also how life changed thier photography. I have changed from where I begin. I made it sound like I always come back to the same look. I meant that there is a look I find exspresses my feeling for what I do and that look has marked my style of photography, but as I change the subject and the way I shoot them do change, Monte Johnson.
Ahh, now that's what I need - an excuse to buy new camera gear!
Seriously, though, I also find that as I use different types of equipment, my style changes a bit. And, when I use "old school" type gear, that is more manual and not all auto-everything, I find I actually like the results better -- to say nothing of the "zen" quality of relaxation I get.
Now, I just have to find me a 4x5...