The past few months, ever since I released my first book, I've received a lot of really nice correspondence about it. I've also been informed of reviews of the book from time to time, some of which, I've read. They've been very interesting to read for one reason: I've been able to understand a little better how others perceive me. Certainly most of the reviews have been very positive, but some of the points of view of the reviewer have left me wondering if they really understand what it is that I do. One particular point in case, is that my book contains not only landscapes, but also portraits. One review suggested that it was surprising to see a book with a mixture of landscapes and portraits, as I was known as a landscape photographer. Well, I've always thought of myself as a travel photographer, if I consider myself a photographer at all. I don't really have a 'badge' for it at the moment, and I guess I would just say to folks that I'm a creative person, who makes his living running photographic workshops - but ultimately, I like to create things. So mixing landscapes and portraits together doesn't seem so radical to me after all.
I never really understood it, when I heard that many actors seldom read reviews of their performances, or musicians don't read reviews of their albums. But I do understand now.
If you are a creative person, you have to be true to yourself and go with your own gut feeling about your own work. You have to do it for yourself, and nobody else. Creating art should not be done to please others, or in the hope that a critic or reviewer will like it. The creative path should not be steered by external committee, nor should it be swayed by doubt cast upon what you do by someone else's point of view.
Your creativity is your voice, so you should spend the time to get to know it, build up your confidence in what your inner you is telling yourself, and learn to trust it. Certainly you can, and should, listen to others that you respect - because you admire their work. Just make sure that it's you who chooses what to take on board. Discard the rest, because if it does not resonate with you it can't help you on your creative journey.
So from that point of view, I won't be reading reviews in future, and if I do spy one now and again, I'll have to tell myself to take it with a pinch of salt, because it is only the point of view of someone else. They don't know me and they shouldn't influence what I do.
I've had a few friends in the past, tell me that I'm very focussed. I'm never too sure how projects will turn out until they are finished (if anything can ever be finished), but I think that's a great attribute to have - to have a strong sense of self vision and know what you want. I hope that if you are in doubt, you will soon find your own voice, and if you are already traveling on your creative journey, stay true to what it is that makes you - you.
It's the only way to lead a fulfilling life of self exploration.