Most of This is People Work!
Much of capturing candid photos in big cities is a lot of people work. First off, you should have good intentions at all times. Don’t be a creeper and if someone asks you to delete a photo, you generally should though you should also know that you don’t have to. One of the best things that you can learn is how to always smile. When someone sees you pointing a camera in their face, they can end up often angry or covering their faces. But if you’ve got a genuine smile and interact with them afterwards, you can change that reaction.
To do this, the belief has to come from within. Know that if you’re just taking a picture, then you’re not at all doing something wrong.
Plan a Route, Then Take Detours
What many photographers (including myself) end up doing is planning some sort of route as casually walking about doesn’t give you goals and objectives that you need to fulfill. You should plan a general route where you’ll encounter people or something cool that is worth photographing. Then if you see things along the way that capture your attention then just veer off to get something else.
For example: festivals can give you other options.
Go to a Park
Though it may seem like the easy thing to do parks provide you with lots of opportunities to photograph people candidly and by asking them for an image. Usually folks know that you’re a tourist going about their business and they’ll do the same thing.
If you’re starting the day out nervous about photographing people, then start in a park and ease your way into the rest.
Walk Against Crowds
Usually sidewalk traffic has two streams of people flowing. If you walk along the one with less people, then you can capture more people as they come towards you. Every person walking towards you gives you another opportunity to get a photo that you really care about.
Wait For Something to Happen in a Cool Spot
The entire game here is all about patience. At times that also means camping out for a bit in a certain spot and just waiting for people to come in and interact with the location. Sometimes you may see really cool lighting or just really attractive things in the environment overall. When you wait, you’ll eventually find something that makes sense to you, shoot it and move on happily.
One of my favorite ways to shoot better images of people and city life in general is to use the zone focusing method. Basically, what you do is stop down to a certain amount, focus the lens at a specific distance and when anything walks in and out of the distance that is worth it to you, you shoot.