Photographing subjects on the street at arm’s length was not my forte. I always wanted to be “invisible” to the subject with my 300mm lens. I was afraid I might lose that candid moment when I focus on them, and I was afraid I might get their ire.
Masters in street photography always say you must stay close to the subject. I followed, and it felt good. I was this close to the subject to spank me or shout at me, but I risked and glad I made that connection to the subject. She looked at me and I just clicked away. I thanked her and we exchanged smiles as a token.
Well, it does not always work that way. I was in Singapore two years ago and tried to do some street photography in Bugis. The moment I aimed my camera, the lady vendor already blurbed some indecipherable Chinese words and cusses. She was mad as hell and even shooed me away. Hah, that was something!
In the Philippines, street photography is not always easy. It is different with upscale communities and environs. They would always have that crazy thought you are stalking them or you will be using the photos against them and recite “privacy laws.” Some illegal vendors in Quiapo, especially those selling fake DVDs would not hesitate to hurt you. One of my photography colleagues experienced that—well, almost. The vendors in front of Quiapo church have been somewhat "desensitized" and just allow photographers to do their thing. They would even give you that “candid” pose you always wanted or be playful before your cameras—wasting that “Kodak moment”. Kids would be even quite cooperative but sometimes annoying when they insist you take their photos.
I think getting close to the subject is not for all. It is partly culture-dependent. It is all about the ‘subject’ not giving a fuss willing to have their photos taken.