A few weeks ago I wrote about my dilemma photographing friends at a dinner party. I wanted to highlight one reader's response to that post, because I find it especially illuminating.
"Deliberate Grace! I think that's the secret....i think there is a certain grace in being deliberate in what you do, whether it's crossing the street or raising your camera, framing an image, collecting the image, bringing the camera back down to your side, and walking on to collect another image somewhere else, maybe only a footstep away.
i'm convinced people love deliberate people around them, maybe it resonates something that makes them think everything is ok....i really don't know, but i do know that you can deliberately collect an image of someone that is standing right in front of you without them taking offence, but even if you're standing across the road from them and you have even an ounce of anxious emotion inside of you, in the seconds that it takes for you to raise your camera the entire block of people will be looking at you as if you are about to mug them!
Personally i 'try' never to collect, and i 'do' never "provide-back" an image of a person that i would not feel proud to confess to if one day i came by chance to be playing pool with them in a pub. I always had this ethic, but it wasn't until i was in a local bar and this actually happened to me that i appreciated that this was actually my ethic. i think having an ethic can give you a feeling of entitlement to confidently collect images of public spaces."
Deliberate Grace! What a beautiful term, and yet another affirmation that good photography --street photography in particular-- depends more on mental state than environment. Sometimes you're in the right frame of mind and photos happen easily. But if you're feeling anxious or pessimistic, you can walk down the exact same street and miss everything. Thanks, Joe, for the insightful comment.