Was wondering how others respond to questions while you are shooting street scenes? I shoot a lot with a 4x5(tripod) and some handheld(35mm).
If I say I'm a photographer they (person asking) want to know why if I'm doing it if I'n not getting paid, i.e commercial work is understandable. Trying to explain it's for an artistic endeavor always seems to come out stuffy or fake. I realize I'm not a verbal outgoing person, but would still like to shoot.

Living in the DC area compounds the problem and everyone either thinks that I'm working for a terrorist organization (from Indiana) or that their work (human office slave) is actually top secret & my camera can see into their briefcase to see their yogurt leaking on their copy of "people". I get a lot of 'photography is illegal here' (I know it's not) etc...

Any advice or personal examples of how to respond to inquiring passerby's would be very appreciated. Or how to deal with rent-a-cops that truly have no jurisdiction on the sidewalk outside their building. Thanks jeff