This issue has recently been clubbed to death in another couple of threads, and while this post is an answer to the OP, and I'm not picking on it specifically, I do not want this thread to degenerate into another mess about the morality of the activity, so please everyone respect the spirit of the thread thus far.
Originally Posted by dpurdy
Alisha, the suggestions of Takef586 are excellent.
Also start shooting in areas where there are many people, like a street fair, an area where there is heavy foot traffic etc.
The awkwardness will go away in due time and sometime will come back but you don't let it take over.
I discourage you from using a telephoto lens: get into the crowd, feel it and love doing it and I assure you it will show in the pictures.
This video from Meyerowitz has been very inspiring for me and I hope it will push you a little further to actually take that dive.
I just spent the weekend at a street fair, not shooting (much), just being there. One thing that may help is that the crowd is probably already full of people taking pictures. True, most of the people I saw were using cell phones, but images were being captured one way or another.
Originally Posted by Domenico Foschi
For me, that takes some strength away from the devil on my shoulder who says that I'll stand out as a freak.
I think that you meant the angel on your shoulder, as if the devil may care.
Originally Posted by DLawson
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
Actually most people don't use DSLRs for street photography, most use something small and unprofessional looking such as a Leica or other RF. It's also quieter.
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Go after the crowds like Domenico suggested.
My list of advantages in that situation:
1) You will not stand out and people are more likely to pay much less attention to someone taking photos of them.
2) You will feel less intimidated
3) People are more defensive when they feel alone and specifically targeted
4) Most of street photography is about the composition of the main elements: people and environment. A crowd creates opportunities
5) Happy accidents, out of balance dynamics, interacting elements, complex visual relationships are all part of the gig
6) At crowded places, people are not just passing by, but doing things together: filling tight spaces, talking to each other, selling goods, performing and so on
7) Faces, many, many faces and a myriad of expressions and looks
8) You might meet other photographers
9) Even if you focus at one or two persons, even excluded from the crowd, they are less likely to be as defensive as on an empty street
Also, excellent subjects are street performers: they are very welcome of the attention of a photographer (especially with a cool camera) and feel good when being noticed.
Street photography needs
1) Quick eyes
2) Fast hands
all of which have to trained and will only get better by doing more and more of it. Experience is the keyword.
Real photographs, created in camera, 100% organic,
no digital additives and shit
Excellent points Ari, especially #5.
Alisha, you will see that as you get more uninhibited you will be able to see more. It has happened to me from time to time that I witness great scenes one after the other. That happens when your inhibitions disappear and you become the camera, and all flows in front of you.
It reminds me of Minor White's quote:" There are times when a photographer walks on water".
I think you mean "most people who know what they're doing." I was in downtown chicago yesterday and saw plenty of people with DSLRs. Then again, I shouldn't be talking. I was lugging around my RB67...
Originally Posted by Markok765
More on topic, I have the same trouble with taking pictures of random people. I've found that every time I do, people don't mind or don't notice, and it gets easier the more you do it.
I would like to get rid of my shyness or the whatever stuff that it is. It keeps my camera at home, I feel discouraged to take the camera and take it to the street; I'm unable to go walking around the streets of a city with the camera hanging on a side; I feel uncomfortable... Just because I feel people will look at me odd. I don't like to be the center of attention.
It sounds stupid, but it's a big crap for me. Street photography would speed up my shooting a lot, so I would learn more, too.
I feel that I can get over it, but when the day arrives, I get discouraged and end leaving the camera at home.
Hmm, go shooting with a friend?