For me phtography is more a puzzle.

I find a nice scene, one that it pleasant, ot interesting, or unusual, and the problem begins. I start working on just what it is that is interesting, or unique, or pretty. The I work on the best way to include it in its surroundings. I try to find the simplest composition possible (keep in mind I'm a landscape photographer primarily, so I shoot lits of rocks and trees). "Simplify, simplify, simplify" is my motto at this stage of the work. Sometimes it requires me to wait around for the light to do something it isn't doing at the moment. I practice the shot with a digital camera, to see how exposure will look. Sometimes I find I can't get the shot at all, so I repack my camera and move on. My goal at this stage is to get the very best image of the simplified subject on my color slide film. Frankly, I'm not looking down the road at the print or at sales. I'm looking at what I'll do in the next moment.

The process is repeated in a way once the slides are developed. I now have many 4x5 transparencies. Some worked, some didn't. I start with the ones I liked and print them. A printing session for me is usually move pretty rapidly through the best shots and get a decent print of each. Then in a subsequent session I start the fine-tuning of the print, adding burns and dodges when needed to fix problems or add mood, tweaking the color balance. For the first time I start thinking about the end product on the wall.

So for me there is no heirarchy, just these sort of compartmentalized 'do your best' steps. I don't work, as Ross mentions, using emotion, but I realise the necessity of it. Until I develop that aspect of my shooting I'll have a more documentary style.

Now, on strictly theoretical gounds I might argue that the heirarchy jdef propposes might be reversed, that the print, the final interpretation in the string of interpretations, is the most important, being what everyone sees. As an example I'll use the Weston example of veggies on a black background. Common, uninteresting subjects, but when shot and printed masterfully, the print itself becomes far more interesting than the subject.