You have a few things going on here, and some opportunities as well. First I would encourage you to get into the mindset which would enable you to not care so much about what others may think about your actions. Feeling self-conscious is a part of personality development as is becoming self-confident. My analog cameras range from a Nikon Nikkormat to a Nikon F6. Some of the newer models (Like the F100 and even the F6) are masked. What I mean is that unless someone sees the camera back, they would have no idea that you are not working in digital format. No matter what anyone says or thinks, working with film is "retro". There are many individuals working in film now that didn't before just to get that vintage look. That is why plastic cameras are so popular right now. Fine art photography is a different story, and that seems to be what you are most interested in. That's great, and there is a realization that comes with that. Analog photography means something now that it didn't mean before. That is, before digital photography became so very common. The new meaning is individualized, and up to you to define.
If carrying around a bulky SLR feels self-conscious, try carrying around a small point-and-shoot camera. This may help you get used to working while others are around. You can also avoid crowded areas and street photography projects until you get more used to the camera being an extension of you. But remember also, that sometimes when working in arenas like public spaces, you may not want a big black artifact that makes you look and feel conspicuous. You may very well want a smaller instrument.
Also consider that the conversations that you have been having are opportunities to interact with new people, and opportunities to describe your purpose
Last edited by ajs77306; 08-09-2012 at 02:10 PM. Click to view previous post history.