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The contrast in an image can help it standout. Contrast can be taken to the extreme for sureal looks or inverted to help an image pop. Justin talks about all the ways he uses Lightroom's various contrast adjustment tools to get the looks he wants.
Just as important as adding contrast, oftentimes you want to reduce it. Starting with a "flatter image" can help in making certain parts of the image stand out or even allow for certain cinematic looks once the color is overlaid.
Many of us have become accustomed to the many sliders available in modern editing programs, but curves could be considered the grandfather to them all. Curves have many applications and might just be the boost you are looking for in your editing workflow.