As an International individual engaging in Photography, I find it quite challenging to capture candid shots of people in the USA compared to my experience in Turkey. Although within the US law it is mentioned that you are free to capture photos of individuals in public space some people are still protective and private about their looks in the US. It is totally understandable knowing what kind of an environment we are living in right now with immense social media features, drones flying around, and big brother watching along side with getting all sorts of information leaked out. So I'd like to take this moment to write about how to take candid shots with people and how to effectively manage this in simple rules.
1) Do not over stress yourself in taking someone's photo. Be casual and take photos of your subject and also the surrounding areas. This might sound quite creepy but you don't want your subject to notice you and that you are solely taking his/her photo. So focus on surrounding parts such as buildings, sculptures, trees...etc. Make it seem like the subject is just a detail in your photo.
2) Use a zoom lens or a good portrait prime lens with at least 50 mm. This will definitely have you focus on the subject without the subject understanding what you are doing. Let's face it not everyone is knowledgeable about lenses just from the looks of the lens. Use this to your advantage if you want to isolate your subject from the environment. P.S. with low f stop the blur also looks fascinating in the background ;)
3) Let's say subject noticed you and covered face or showed an unpleasant gesture. If you are approached to by the subject avoid conflict. As a photographer/artist or even as a human being the ethical and right thing to do is to respect their will. So if you are asked to delete your photo just say "Sure!" and delete it because it is really not worth fighting over it despite what the law says.
4) If you are being approached with questions such as "Why did you take my photo?" or "Where will you use this?" explain them that you are on Instagram or you have a blog. Who knows? Maybe they will spread the word out and be an ambassador for your brand or will follow you themselves first. In the best case scenario, they might even know someone else for you to network with.
No matter what you engage in from these cases do not forget to have fun because we are doing this to create amazing moments in life and share with others.