Quote Originally Posted by dracblau View Post
A friend of mine tried that a few years ago, and the homeless people were not very amused. Luckily she and her friend were able to jump in their car and get away. I get the feeling they felt intruded upon. Of course, technique and the way you go about it are factors. There is a large homeless community there, and illegal activity going on, so I can see how it can be risky, but I can also see how it would make for an interesting photo shoot.

There are a lot of great places here in SoCal. I tend to like places where you can see the detritus of past human activity as it wastes away under the harsh climate here.

There is the Salton Sea, which is a favorite among many photographers and a place to which I would like to return. When you are there you can definitely see what happens when society's plans go awry and end up in ruins. But there is also a magic about the place that is hard to describe but is compelling.
You are correct when you say that the approach is what is important.
If you are interested in some kind of social commentary in taking pictures in skid row, the best approach is to go there and forget that you are there to take pictures.
If you are really interested in understanding the life of this social slice you need to approach the people and treat them as such.
Letting them know that you are there to respect them and you are truly inetrested in chatting with them it will make all the difference in the world.
So, speak first, treat them with respect but don't be fearful, listen to them and talk to them, interact.
When things have relaxed ask them if you can take some pictures and don't forget to bring with you a decent amount of $ 1 bills.