I know it's not what our mamas taught us.
But they probably wouldn't want us out on the streets anyway.
The thing I've learned about urban photography is that if you interact, you get more action. Wallflowers are for junior high dances. Shyness is for landscape work. If you want to shoot in the city, you better pack your personality too.
Say you're both waiting to cross the street. "That's a good looking building over there, wouldn't you say?" If you get anything more than a grunt, you can add, "And I like your jacket too. Do you mind if I get a quick portrait?"
It's not that hard. But it takes energy. Some days I have it, others I just hang out.
My biggest ally is curiosity. "What are you taking a picture of?
"I'm photographing that building. But now I'm thinking that a portrait of you would be great too. Got a minute?"
About 1 out of 5 will say no. The other 4 will be interesting shots.
When I ask, I look them in the eyes and smile. And I hold my camera tightly.
Just in case my mama was right.