I think it's important to shoot for yourself.
Photographers shoot lots of stuff for other people and I think we get confused about the difference between what we create for an intended audience and what we should create for our more immediate audience: ourselves. If I were a psychology major I'm sure I could explain why the emotional need to satisfy others sometimes dominates, even in contradiction to our own best interests, our need to truly express our personal vision. Even if the result doesn't make people stand up and cheer it should cheer our own sense of discovery and playfulness.
I'm sure I attach far too much value to the criticism of others. It might be nice to work in seclusion for a spell. Anyway, I shot the above portrait of my dear friend, Renae, a few years back and I printed this because it seemed to me to be a part of Renae that spoke to her insouciance. It symbolized the part of our relationship that made her raise an eyebrow occasionally when I spoke about things I really didn't know much about. It took a commitment to shoot for yourself in the days of film. There was a financial cost to every frame. And though I wish I could go back in time and have all the money back that I spent on coffee and alcohol and pastries I don't regret any of the money I spent on film, processing and printing.
I just finished a few big projects and now I think I'll spend a week shooting just for myself.