Holding a camera in public and shooting around can be fearful and stressful. Having social anxiety or being an introvert doesn’t help either. I’ve been there… Here’s a method that worked really well for me. It will help you to get over your fear of holding a camera in public.
Start with a familiar place
The first step is to go to a place you’re familiar with, not a completely empty place but not a crowded one either. It doesn’t have to be in the street. For me, the choice was to go to the big park near my house. Set up your camera in advance, and go to this familiar area. Take your camera out and shoot whatever attracts your eyes. Don’t pay attention to people, they don’t care that you’re here with a camera in your hands.
Return practicing in this familiar place for a few weeks, till you feel really comfortable holding your camera there, even with people around you. It took me a whole month of shooting in the park to significantly overcome my fear of holding a camera in public.
Get out of your comfort zone
Now, it’s time to get a little out of your comfort zone. Select a moderately crowded zone, like a big avenue. A place you preferably know and where you don’t feel out of place.
Go there, take a long and slow walk while taking shots. Repeat for a week or two till holding your camera in public becomes natural. You may notice that people usually don’t care that you’re here with a camera, even if you shoot at the crowd. I made multiple street sessions in my district after training in the park and what a joy it was. I was wrong for thinking people may look at me or bother me. Take your time till you’re ready for the last step.
Last step: shoot in an unknown place
Now for the last step: go to a place you’re not quite familiar with and practice there. Choose a busy street or a place in your city that is a bit foreign to you. Go there, take out your camera, and enjoy a long and slow walk while photographing around. Repeat a few times. If your fear is not gone, it should be significantly lower at this point.
If you’re not living in a city
You can still apply this program. Start with a familiar place with at least a bit of human activity. Then continue your training where human activity is a bit higher to get out of your comfort zone. For the last step, you can visit a city near you or any place that is quite busy.
It really works
This personal program has done wonders for me. I’ve gone from a shy, introverted guy stressed to take out his camera in public to someone who sometimes shoots people at less than a meter distance. You can do it too! Take your time, don’t rush yourself, and most importantly take pleasure in street photography !