Taking portraits without the subject being aware of the camera is one of the challenges of street photography. There are some common ways to attempt this kind of photo. The most used method is called “shooting from the hip” where the camera is held against the hip and the camera is pre-focused. Another variation is wearing the camera strap around the neck and again pre-focusing the camera and raising the hand up and pressing the shutter button when necessary. With practice both styles can get great results.
I have another way to shoot that is more involved and only works in certain situations but gives great results. This system only works if you and the subject are seated. But with patience the subjects come to you.
First find an area with chairs or benches that are not very far apart. The basics for this is a digital camera that has a remote app that shows a live view of what the camera sees. I use a Leica Q2 and the Leica Fotos app. The way this works is that the camera appears to be just resting on you lap so no one thinks that you are taking photos. So that I don’t have to worry about the camera falling on the ground I attach my camera to my Leica Tabletop tripod. I hold onto the tripod with my knees and legs so that the camera appears to be resting on my lap. It is more secure this way.
Next I connect the remote app to my camera. The camera is then pointed toward my subject and from here on I try not to touch the camera so it doesn’t look like I’m taking photos. I might move around a little in the chair to adjust framing. My camera and app combo allows for remote focusing so the image is always in focus.
To most people it looks like I’m using my phone so no one pays attention to me. With the Leica Q2 I have 47mp to crop with so framing and distance is not that important. I also use this technique to photograph owners and their dogs. Give this technique a try next time your out street shooting and you need to rest your feet.