One of the biggest things I get asked when shooting street photography is if people are ok with me shoving a camera in their face. Many people don't understand the concept of candid yet non creepy photography. Once I try to explain that I'm not always trying to get my subjects attention but am more interested in the activity of their lives, many people find it funny to paint a word picture making me look like a total creep in a trench coat taking photos of people looking some private eye or worse depending on how crude they decide to describe the act. Though I usually laugh it off, I most always have to explain that street photography (at least to me) is more about daily life and capturing life that has nothing to do with celebrities or a major current event.
In fact many people don't even realize there are street photographers around when they are capturing images the way I do, I find it best to blend in and not disrupt the routines or activities that you are trying to tell a story of. That's why I usually dress very simple and camouflage my cameras in a specific way.
Gaff tape is used in the photo, film and stage industries because it has the holding power of duct tape: but it provides very little to no adhesive residue when removed. Another added bonus is that gaff tape is known for its not reflective surface so it attracts very little attention.
I use gaff tape to cover my cameras for a few reasons, here's why:
#1 It makes my camera less noticeable
By covering up all the logos and shiny bits of the camera, it makes the camera stand out much less. Not saying that it becomes invisible but it does cut down on the high contrast Nikon, Canon, or whatever else logo right near your forehead.
#2 It protects the camera body
When shooting street, I don't like to carry much equipment, many times I don't even carry a bag; that means that that if I decide to rest for a moment my camera is now exposed to the elements it was set down on. Many of my vintage cameras are brass or some other type of metal covered either in enamel or in anodized coating, that are likely to be scratched or damaged when placed on a rough surface such as brick concrete or even wood tables. Gaff tape allows me to maintain as little damage to the camera body as possible while also protecting it from other elements such as sand water or any number of other things.
#3 The tape protects me
No I have never been a thief, but I know that being a thief really counts on finding valuable things that can then be sold especially when pickpocketing. If I was going to steal from someone it would be from the person that I perceived had more valuable goods for me to steal. Covering up an expensive camera with Kate really makes the value of the camera visibly go down. Can always be removed it's important to not look too flashy when photographing on the street because you don't want to be targeted as someone with an item of value that is begging to be taken. Because of the small size that comes with my Fujifilm mirrorless camera, taping up all the important real estate that is visible from the outside world, makes it look like nothing more than a very inexpensive point and shoot or beat up film camera. I'm much more likely to walk freely then to get beat up for something hanging around my neck if it looks like junk.