Depending upon the context, "shooting from the hip" can take on one of several meanings. In my case, it refers to the practice of taking photographs while your camera dangles from your hip. Or in front of you. The main point is that you don't hold your camera up to your eye, carefully compose your shot, or check the results. You just randomly click the shutter button and take what you get.
Shooting from the hip is pretty spontaneous, which is not my style - I usually like to everything organized and planned out ahead of time. Normally I shoot in manual mode, which involves checking exposure and adjusting as needed. Street photography (not my style either) is particularly suited to shooting from the hip because of the variety of scenes that present themselves and the constant change in what comes into view. There is a surprise factor in letting the camera capture the randomness of people, scenes, shadows, and random objects that one would not normally notice.
So, last October, when I was in downtown Chicago for the Filter Photo Festival, I decided to try my hand at shooting from the hip. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning, and at first there wasn't a lot of activity, not even from the picketers in front of the Sheraton Hotel on Michigan Avenue. But then, there appeared a trickle of people in all manner of costumes, moving towards Grant Park for the Chicago Monster Dash. The idea is to run either a 5K or half-marathon in your favorite costume. If you don't do well on the racing part, there are prizes for best costume based on originality, execution, wearability and overall effect.
Perfect! Early morning sunny day, fresh and crisp, a fun atmosphere, and unusual subjects. Set the camera to aperture priority, let the camera hang at an angle at the hip, and click away.