I think at some stage in the career of every creative, they will think if they should do things they like or things others like. I felt like writing a post about it after being inspired by a single paragraph on a friends blog (which you should totally check out). No photos in this, just my thoughts put down in text, may be worthwhile to some, may be a rambling mess...
For a photographer, shooting commercially is a nice thing to earn some money, but often means we don't necessarily photograph what we want. To appeal to an audience we target our shoots on places like Instagram and Facebook to try to get noticed. Whether that be from the clients themselves, or just in general so we can get lots of "likes" and "followers" (which unfortunately is often a determining feature of getting sent freebies and being promoted by companies and magazines).
Personally I have asked myself this question a number of times over the past few years, and considering photography isn't my primary source of income (as much as I would like it to be), I always come up with the same conclusion. I shoot and publish for me. The fact that others get enjoyment from this is a bonus (actually the amount of people that enjoy my work constantly blows me away, I appreciate every single one of them).
Actually to be honest, typically the most enjoyment for me is the actual photoshoot rather than the end result. Meeting and talking to a wide variety of people is amazing and always having a common interest to avoid the typical smalltalk. I have made some amazing friends in this industry. The end result is important though, you want to enjoy your own work, and have a portfolio that encourages others to work with you too. The feeling of approaching someone you admire and have them say yes to a photoshoot (due to your portfolio and reputation) is pretty amazing.
From time to time I experiment with what I post and see what is popular. If I were just to go down that path permanently, my entire Instagram feed would pretty much end up consisting of Vicky Aisha and Hylia Suicide. I'm sure a significant majority of my followers came from them sharing my images.
Sometimes I'm surprised with the photos that end up popular, and those that don't. Typically you'd expect a provocative image to be popular given the nature of my work and why a lot of people follow me, however it's not always the case. On the same lines, you'd think something totally different may stand out, but once again, nope. Day of the week, you'd think so, but I have posted images from the same set on different days (eg. Monday one week, Tuesday the next) and they get a similar amount of likes.
Is there a point to this rambling? Hmmm, not sure, maybe that at the end of the day, we need to know what is important, whether that be income or artistic creativity. There's nothing wrong with picking either as long as you don't let it go to your head. There's a few out there that luckily get the benefit of both, but they are few and far between. A not insignificant number of the photographers I follow (and other artists in general) end up doing the same thing over and over, losing a lot of that creativity in the name of being able to eat. It's a shame, but the nature of the world.