Although the subway is a difficult place to shoot, it has one advantage: it’s noisy. There’s always enough noise to drown out the click of the shutter. I have taken thousands of pictures on the subway with the camera to my eye without running into any sort of trouble other than the occasional nasty stare. However, before the camera is raised to your eye it should already be focused. This rule is true for most street shots.
You can focus on your subject when they aren’t looking, set the camera lens to manual and wait for “the moment” if it ever happens.
Whether on a train, or some other location, the easiest time to shoot is when there is a distraction. For example, when the mariachi band enters the car, everyone will be looking at them. You can shoot other passengers without being noticed.
And even if you are seen, people will understand that you have your camera out if you take a few shots of the mariachi Band as well. This is the same technique as using a landmark as a reason for taking pictures.
Another modern phenomena which makes life easier for the street photographer: everyone, whether on the street or in a subway car, is already distracted by their iPods, cell phones, e-books, and Blackberry devices. One day I was on the train, and noticed that everyone around me had earphones, or were reading their email. Combined with the noise of the train, I was able to take closeup shots of a passenger who was about a foot and a half away from me without being noticed by anyone. I found that amazing. It wasn’t like that ten years ago.
Reblogged from PictureCorrect