While shooting, I usually tries to get as close as possible. One reason is that I mainly shoot with wideangle primes (21mm or 35mm) wich forces me to step in to the action. Some streetshooter prefers telelenses so that they can shoot from a distance, but I think those images usually gets to focused on the actual object and misses the context. Shure – it could still be nice images, but in a crowded place you really have to be lucky to get a clear view to include something else than the actual person (or whatever turns you on).
Anyway. This gal saw me lifting my camera and held her hand out – I still took the image (I always do) and then immediatley explained to her what I was doing. Shooting digital means you can show the images in the spot, wich really helps in this kind of situations. So, she got to see the image and had the option of having me deleting it. Sometimes they want that – other times they get my card so I can send them a copy.
Most of the time people gets pretty relaxed, sometimes even interested, and leaves with a smile on their faces. I think this is one of the hardest parts of street photography – as a shooter you can´t be afraid of talking to strangers. My style of shooting usually demands that the object is unaware of me, but I never sneaks away if they do notice me. A thumbs up and a smile usually do the trick. If not – let´s have a chat :)
By the way – the other great challange with street is that it takes some time to develop balls to get physically close to your object. But it pays off :)