Besides my urban landscape and structure photography I started shooting "street" seven months ago in Philadelphia and NYC. I haven't had one person tell me to not take their picture or acted like they're were uncomfortable. If you approach someone and you yourself seem nervous you will make your subject wonder what your intentions are and most likely trigger an angry response. The best way to go about it is to be fast and confident, most will not even realize that they had their picture taken. Another piece of advice is hide your camera until you're ready to take a shot, people see a camera and they act unnatural and most will try to move because they think they are in the way.
Michael, I've been doing street photography since about 1953 and I'd say that everything you just pointed out is right on the money. I'd add one point: your attitude is the most important thing. You simply must
have a positive and friendly attitude toward all the people around you -- not just the ones you want to photograph. I'm not too sure about the idea of hiding the camera. When I was shooting with Leicas I used to carry the camera in my hand, attached to a wrist strap, and even now, if I'm shooting with my R-D1 I carry it in my hand. But I also often do street photography with my D3 and a 50mm prime lens, and carry it on a strap over my shoulder. Carrying it that way I can raise it with one hand and shoot. It doesn't seem to bother people or attract much attention -- unless I run into an equipment-fanatic type photographer.
On the other hand, as I said in an earlier post on a different thread, the people I photograph rarely realize they've been photographed, even when I'm shooting face-on. Here's a classic example. These two were in a flea market dressed and behaving in a way that made me want to get a photograph of them together. I followed them around for a while but couldn't get in position to get a shot, so I went and sat down on a bench. Mirabile dictu
, in a minute, they came and sat down on a bench a few feet away facing me. I made, I think, four exposures. They never knew they'd been shot (so to speak). You can see how close I was when you realize I was shooting with a full-frame D3 and a 50mm prime lens. Even with the small 50mm the D3 is a big hunk of iron, but I don't think they ever even saw the camera, which was reposing in my lap when it wasn't at my eye.
I really love the expressions I caught in this one.