"To be a photographer or videographer is to be a creeper"
A friend of mine, Jordan Holt, said this offhand remark that has stayed with me ever since. For a man who tries to blend in, having a camera around his neck might be the least effective way not to attract attention. You will attract glances, people will look at you funny and more often than not, you will stick out. Especially if you are knee deep in mud, shooting people on a hiking trail.
Its always hard to start though. My first forays as an official photographer was an awkward experience to say the least. I felt self-conscious, I didn't know what to respond with when the (admittedly hot) model asked me what to do and I didn't know if I was making really bad jokes or the crowd I was catering to was extremely tough to please.
This however, made a complete 180˚ turn after a few shoots. An extreme lack of care about how people perceive you almost. When shooting, I only think about the shot and how can I get what is in my head into the screen. I have laid under a car, been on top of an extremely rickety under-construction building, shot for commercials and followed complete strangers - documenting their stories. Its weird how all of your awkwardness and self-consciousness melts away when you just think about the story you want to tell and how you can get that shot.
So if you are just starting out and feel awkward, just think of the shot. You feel significant less worried about how you look.