I am a huge advocate of personal work. When my schedule allows, I try to do as much as I can. In fact, I started my Project:365 in January as an exercise to train myself to see creatively and and hone my photographic skill. I'm about 3 months into it and I've noticed a significant difference in how I see things, not to mention it's strengthened the relationship between me and my gear. I encourage everyone out there to begin doing some personal shooting if you haven't already. Maybe it's not a 365, but instead going out once a week to take a few pictures. It doesn't matter. Either way, the effect will be profound.
I've been finding that shooting for myself is incredibly liberating. I can go out and learn different ways of shooting, explore new compositions, and think creatively without having to worry about pleasing a client. It doesn't matter if my photos are the best photos anyone's ever seen or if they are complete garbage, that's not the point. The point is that they will have meaning for me, they will help keep me moving, and fuel my creativity.
The dirtiest little secret in photography is "take lots of pictures." You can't improve if you are not constantly shooting. So if there is a lesson to be learned in this post, it's "go out and shoot," it can only help you. For those of you who are already doing some personal shooting, drop me a comment and let me know how it's going for you and if you're having the same experiences as I am. Stay tuned, I'll be posting more of my personal GOYA work soon.