I like helping people. I get great satisfaction from it. I get loads of emails from photographers, both new and experienced, asking if they can get my opinion on their work, or come and assist me on a shoot.
The problem with someone coming to assist me on a single shoot is simple... they only learn what I do on that one shoot. There's far more to photography than lighting and technical stuff. I would much rather sit down one to one with people and discuss the philosophies and thinking behind what we do. That to me is far more valuable.
The theory behind my advice is based on the idea of teaching a man to fish. If someone comes and watches me set up some lighting, they'll know how to create that look. If I sit them down and teach them a little of how my mind works and what I'm trying to do in any given situation, they'll be able to take that and apply it to their own work.
Many moons ago, I watched a video on YouTube where Canadian photographer Martin Prihoda said "the best way to get ahead, is to help those around you get ahead". This is something that has stuck with me, and is so true. If we all help each other, everyone benefits!
Unfortunately, there is a slight issue I seem to be victim of... People who want help, but won't help themselves! I've lost track of the amount of people who want my help and then for one reason or another, can't make it at the very last minute. We'd all like things given to us on a plate, but if people aren't going to put even a small amount of effort in, they really won't get very far in this business. Rule #1 when seeking advice from people... show up when they offer to give it to you. Anyway, that's my little rant over!
A few people have told me I shouldn't give all this stuff in my brain away for free. Why not? I learnt it from somewhere, and if someone's determined to learn it, they'll do so with my help of not. As far as I'm concerned, there are no secrets in what we do. I'm learn new things every day from all kinds of people and situations. That's the beauty of photography. It's always changing, and evolving.
So if someone out there asks your advice, don't be afraid to give it (constructively though!), and if there's anyone out there who wants advice, don't be afraid to ask! If everyone helps everyone, the world will be an amazing place, but it starts with you!