You need a business card when this happens which you can hand to such a person and tell them that they can download the picture for their album. It helps if you are actually licensed. All legit and all.
I gave up on the street stuff mostly. Had to many over zealous security guards who thought they were God's law. The shooting was really all for fun, so why weather that crap. Big events are ok tho.
To believe that parental concern about the safety of their children is misplaced and an invention of gutter media is amazingly self-delusional. People of all political stripes like to blame the media for our problems, like our inability to exercise our rights as an artist, but media reflects public sentiment as often as it creates it and probably more. Do you really believe it is ok for an adult to interact with a child without gaining parental permission first? Are you a parent?
Years ago, as a street photographer in Chicago, people were much different, more open, more receptive, curious and seemingly more interested in meeting their neighbors and fellow urban residents. Now it's different. People are suspicious, distrustful, tending to stereotype news clips to the general population, and shy. We didn't have to snipe from a distance with long lenses. Years ago, we asked people for permission to photograph them because they seemed interesting subjects. We introduced ourselves. We told them we felt that what we were doing was important and that we would appreciate it if they would allow us (me) to let them become a part of my project. Most were flattered to stop for a minute and allow their image to be captured on film. I enjoyed talking to them during and afterwards. Finding out about them. Even after I took a shot without first asking consent, more often than not, I went up to them afterwards, told them what I was doing and even asked them to sign a release and offered to send them a print or two of their photograph. Imagine that. People were receptive to that.
Sadly, I think you were a victim of urban hysteria; of a mother who has serious social phobias and paranoia issues and in this case, unfounded but genuine fears. Even sadder is that the sins of the mother are visited upon the children, like the kid who gave you the finger while he was walking away. What sort of person will that kid be when/if he grows up? Look at how he deals with strangers? His mom or whomever she is, is teaching him how to be disrespectful and rude. Nice. Soon to be appearing in the next generation. It's a shame. Can you disarm that? I don't know. Is it worthwhile incorporating a disarming sense of mutual humanity into your photographic repertoire and paying it forward? Probably if you haven't done so already.
My suggestion to you is keep on doing what you're doing but try to be a little more receptive to talking to your subjects before and after you photograph them and as someone else said here earlier, "Blow it off". No harm no foul. Certainly not everyone is like these people you ran into.
Take it light ;>)
Rights play both ways: you may have a right to photograph in public, but people have a right not to be photographed in a way that violates their personal space.
Taking casual photos of people in general on the street is probably OK; sitting across from someone and taking (or attempting) to take several photos of their child at close range - without talking to the person first and asking permission - is in bad taste. If someone I didn't know was attempting to take photos of me under similar circumstances, I'd tell the photographer to F-off!
"What Ming Rider experienced is really quite unpleasant - as his reaction testifies - but none of us are in a position to make moral (or pseudo-medical) judgments about the person who inflicted it on him. We have no idea what provoked her reaction."
Suffice it to say, based on the circumstances and her reactions by calling him a "pervert" it's pretty logical to assume it was fear-based misconception that could have been disarmed by talking to her first before photographing her kids. One really doesn't need to go beyond that analysis to reach the conclusion I did. In other words, it's common sense.
I couldn't disagree more. It doesn't follow logically that calling someone a pervert implies that they have "serious social phobias and paranoia issues" and nor does it follow from an application of "common sense"