You’ve done a wonderful job on your first assignment.
Your first image is a great example of what not to do with a photograph. The image lacks a point of focus (or stopper), the edges of the photograph are not well organized, important secondary objects are amputated, there is no sense of continuity, no color palette, very little depth and no texture.
Your second image however, simplifies the same area by focusing in on one element. In this photograph you’ve chosen to move closer to your subject to help eliminate distracting and unnecessary background elements. This helped you create a focus for you photograph. However, I do want to mention quickly, that macro photography isn’t necessary for proper composition. It’s more challenging to frame wider scenes, but it’s your responsibility as a photographer to find was to organize the visual chaos. But for now, moving in closer is fine because it helps highlight some important improvements.
For starters, the texture of the wood and handle were brought out and you’ve used the handle as you main object of focus, while the simplified background and wood texture adds a nice secondary object to the shot.
In this shot, you’ve also simplified your color palette. You now have a strong yet simple color palette of gradients of brown and gold. The limited color spectrum helps to simplify your photograph and these two colors work incredibly well together.
The one thing I would like to see you play around with at this point is lighting. When working indoors you have the option of using flashlights, overhead lighting and lamps. Try getting creative with using different lighting sources and intensities.
Watch the following lighting tutorial, that also directed towards filmmakers is very relevant to photographers as well. Experiment and enjoy!