You are correct when you say that the approach is what is important.
Originally Posted by dracblau
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.