It's a sad fact that the more time I choose to spend in 'the city', the more I'm realising what a different world it is to the relative tranquility of the countryside.
People's attitudes (to a large degree) towards each other are different. I walk around feeling happy with my lot and probably show it in my expression. Others look (to me anyway) as though they're about to be attacked around the next corner.
A simple cheery nod from me to anyone passing by, is met with a fearful look in the other direction.
I was going to ask a passerby in Blackburn this morning if he knew where there was a McDonalds. Before I could speak, he just blurted, "not interested, I don't believe in God." :D Later I realised that with my cheerful disposition and the black messenger style camera bag, I probably looked like a Jehovah Witness.
Sad times and shame on others for loosing empathy with their surroundings.
I'll get of my soapbox now.
In the United States we have a constitution. And the first amendment of that constitution guarantees freedom of speech. It is almost like a religious text. But for most of us regardless of what freedoms that passage says it protects we go most of our lives without invoking it's protection. Why? Because regardless of what some piece of legal paper in Washington DC says we are more constrained by societal norms. It's ironic. People complaining about the break down of society because they can't just stalk and shoot other people's children without so much as a "hello" or introduction. Quoting your legal rights to someone is not how I see things getting done on the street in small towns. That to me seems a very urban attitude.
I guess it helps me sometimes that I'm particularly big and particularly ugly. When I do street work, I seldom run into problems with anyone. On the contrary, when people realize I'm shooting film, they often see it as a novelty and ask if I'll take their photo (and yet still ask to see the preview on the back of the camera).
i am not familiar with the rules of the country the OP was in regarding street photos. but in the US we can still do it freely.
I am wondering if we should take a more aggressive approach? Should we start following our accusers down the street making our case argumentative style and getting upset at their accusations?
'Idiot...I am not a fudging pervert ...if i was, I'd be shooting from a van with a telephoto or a mirror spy attachment.'...type of thing.
We don't necessarily take pictures OF other people. We take pictures that have people IN THEM.
At least that's the way I see things. I take pictures of landscapes, scenery or landmarks but, without people in them, they often look deserted, uninteresting or just plain boring. People in the foreground or interacting with the world are what makes an "okay" picture into a great picture.
Sometimes, I'll take a picture of people or kids doing something but, in those cases, it's about the activity, not necessarily the person. Most of the time, those people's faces aren't visible or they are blurred or in the shadows.
It's not because I don't want to see the person's face. It's because I'm trying to sell my pictures or I'm trying to promote my photography. I want to promote pictures, not other people. The only person beside me who cares is the person in the picture. The rest of the world doesn't give a rat's ass.
In today's world it's incredibly rude to interact with a minor without contact with the responsible adult first. INCREDIBLY RUDE and anyone who reads a newspaper or watches a tv more than once a month should know that. Don't discuss the constitution or your "rights" as an artist. We are talking about very basic good manners.