In the zone is a term used by street photographers when they are tuned into their surroundings and the pictures are coming easily.
It isn't unique to street photography, it can happen in any field of endeavour. You are in the zone when you are so engrossed in an activity that space and time seem to stand still. What seems like minutes to you can be hours in the real world. It is that place where you are doing rather than thinking about doing, there is no thought about the how, it is just happening.
Intuition is in the driver's seat, training, knowledge, experience and rational thought are at the back of the bus. More than likely playing strip poker or engaged in some other childish pursuit.
It is the street photographer's nirvana. They are one with the street. They are part of and at the same time removed from the activity that is happening. They are the objective viewer of the dance they are dancing. Their presence is integral to the action and accepted by the other participants without influencing the proceedings. There are no photo faces; it's almost as if the photographer is invisible.
Canadian street photographer John Brownlow talks about going blank, he surveys the scene through his camera until he goes blank and that is when he presses the shutter.
With painting, writing or gaming being in the zone can last for considerable amounts of time, with street photography it tends to be fleeting, but can happen several times in a walk . It is the dynamic of the street, the ever changing kaleidoscope of activity, and the nature of photography, the captured moment in time, that make it so.
But it is in these moments that the inspirational pics happen. Although this is not apparent until later, when looking through the results of your walk, mainly because rational thought was losing their shirt at the back of the bus.
When a street photographer takes their camera for a walk, being in the zone this is their hoped for destination