Yes, it is quite a step too.
One of the things that becomes a struggle is that many of the critics around you (mostly other photographers) will be looking at your application of technical skills and rules. Most are studying your craftsmanship/technique, not your art. They will no longer be your audience.
Sharpness, lack of grain, perfect exposure, rule of thirds, blah, blah, blah...
Even in this thread you can see it in Salgado getting picked on for grain and sharpness.
The feedback you get will change markedly when you cross the line and start breaking rules.
Just remember Salgado is a success regardless of what we think of his style or choices.