It's in the Harry Potter books and in super hero comics. It's the cloak of invisibility. And in addition to foiling rogue magicians and killer aliens from alternate dimensions it is also highly prized by photographers who would like to see without being seen. Problem is the cloak of invisibility doesn't exist. We have to create our own. I've shot in many places and in the midst of many cultures and there are a few things I've learned about becoming invisible. I think about this when I head out to shoot.
For a street shooter I'm blessed to be "only" five feet and eight inches tall. This is pretty average for most of the world these days. If you are very tall or very, very short it can be harder to blend in. I am of average weight for my height. Not rail thin. Not too thick. I don't stick out because nothing sticks out. No jutting ribs, no belly over belt. Nothing to take a second look at.
When I go out to shoot I try to think about the way most people dress in the city I'm shooting in. I like to buy work clothes. I try to never wear running shoes. I tend not to wear shorts unless the city I'm in is routinely hot and most people wear shorts. I tend not to look at people unless I am photographing them but I also try not to look away. I don't wear sunglasses when I shoot. People need to see your eyes to gauge your intentions.
I don't wear clothes with big logos or bright colors. I'm interested in never attracting attention. I even try to buy boring eyeglasses.
All of this would be undone if I dragged along a big camera bag and lots and lots of gear. The reason I shot with Leica M cameras for many years is the same reason I like the new micro 4:3 cameras. They are low profile. Not showy. Certainly not professional looking to the casual bystander. Nothing like a Canon 1DS with a 70-200mm 2.8. I want my camera to be as uninteresting as the aspect I'm trying to create for myself. People are wary of your intentions when you bring the whole cyclotron array along with you. You look intent on capturing something. You distance yourself from the crowd by dint of inventory. You move with a different cadence and a different demeanor. You become "them" and not "us".
I'm spending more time street shooting in San Antonio. I'm practicing my invisibility. Why? Because if you can leave the ego in the trunk of your car with all the rest of your high end photo gear you'll have access. And access beats glamor gear every time you go out to shoot. One camera. One lens. One intention: To look and to share. Not to capture and harvest.
Lottery ticket booth in Rome. I've been spotted. My cloak of invisibility was torn open by the Nikon f5 and the 85mm on the front.