Having labeled my picture making as a design-creation exercise, I thought it important to write that I consider design creation to be quite different from the idea of creating good composition in a picture. That written, it is my belief that difference between design and composition is a somewhat murky concept. Nevertheless, I will attempt to explain ...
... iMo, I believe it is necessary to drag 2 "tried and true" picture making adages into the mix - the "rules' of composition and admonition to simplify (aka: the prohibition of too much visual information). I feel that necessity because good design follows no hard-and-fast rules and good design can be quite simple or quite messy .... AN ASIDE: It is quite possible to make good photographs which defy the rules of composition and the admonition to simplify. However, most picture makers tend to play by the rules - making pictures which conform to what they have been told are good pictures.END ASIDE .... Consequently, in my picture making, I subscribe to no rules. Following rules, in the making of any art, is the killer of creativity.
So, in the case of my picture making M.O., my eye and sensibilities are preternaturally drawn to visual relationships - relationships between/amongst existent visual elements, aka: shapes, lines, colors, tonalities and the like, rather than specific referents (people, places, things and the like, although people and things can act as visual elements). Relationships which create visual energy. Energy which incites the eye to dance and roam around within, and even bounce off, the selected framing, as seen on the 2D surface (the visual field) of a print.
When my eye and sensibilities settle upon a referent (any referent will do) surrounded by a field of visual elements, I set to work, using my POV and selected framing, to emphasize their relationships in a manner that, to my eye and sensibilities, "feels right". That is, in a manner which creates a design which creates just the "right" amount of visual energy.
So there you have it. At least I have attempted to explain / define how I approach making a picture as a design exercise. Maybe you get it, maybe you don't but tried.