Carry a cover with you at all times
A book, a magazine, even a leaflet will do. If the subject of your mission looks at you, just pretend to read. Of course you’ll have to be quick to lower your head but if you do get caught in the process, you can always compose an air of intellectual thought. Stare into your cup and move your lips a little, as if muttering wisdoms about the world.
Play the role of a writer
This is one of the best devices for people watching. You can get away with staring directly at almost anyone as long as you assume the vacant air of a writer deep in thought about their book and then jot down a few things in your notebook. The laptop doesn’t work as well in this case and would probably make you look like a nerdy freak.
Pretend to be blind
For the really determined and shameless the ultimate props would be a white stick and a large pair of sun glasses. Or you could try wearing sunglasses and facing another way while observing your subject with just your eyes. Keep switching sides though unless you want a headache afterwards.
Reflective surfaces and peripheral vision are good if you are a bit of a chicken and are prepared to sacrifice the image quality for that extra bit of safety. And the risk takers would do well staring openly and unashamedly. If you do get caught, smile and start a conversation. That always works. Almost.
First published on Itchyliverpool.co.uk
How to people watch without getting caught