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In his first column, party photographer and man-about-town JJ Thompson lays down the rules for getting shot and living to tell the tale.

Definition of picture-perfect spot? A fan and Joe Mimran. Even our style editor can’t help smiling. Photo: JJ Thompson. If there wasn’t a photographer present, it never happened. That’s the truth. Parties come and go, and all that remains are the pictures. Every night is a new contest: she or he with the most captions wins. If you think this doesn’t mean total social warfare on the party circuit, you’re underestimating people (or, perhaps, overestimating them). And who’s calling the shots? The photographers. As part of the legion of mercenary photogs out on the town night after night, I get asked–and believe me I do–what makes me choose one face above all the others? Here, let me tell you. 1. Dress to impress, and I mean that. You’re not getting milk. T-shirts and trainers are for decorating the house and running marathons. And no, a blouse and “nice jeans” don’t equal a dress. 2. Go light on commitment. Work the room, move about, don’t stay chained to your plus-one. 3. Likewise, hanging out in large groups does nothing for your room presence. Don’t ever get lost in the crowd. 4. Good lighting and a great backdrop go a long way. I often shoot people because of where they’re standing. Find the picture-perfect spot: no clutter, no crowd, and no harsh, direct light. Just a clean, easy shot. 5. Be a peacock. In this jungle, the brighter and bolder your feathers, the bigger star you are. Mad hats, gigantic gobs of jewelry, outfits combining six prints and ten colours, you name it; it’s all honey to the bees. Keep it fun, though, not overtly contrived. 6. Don?t be too needy. Staring at me all night long makes me want to take out an injunction, not take a photo. Now, once you’re in the photographer’s sights, don’t stop thinking. This is where it can all go horribly wrong. There’s an art to getting the best snap taken of you, of creating something of a “keeper.” Some people are naturals; others seem to do everything in their power to get it wrong. There are a graveyard of poor choices made every night. Here’s how to stay in the game. 7. Keep your smile in control. If it causes you a hernia, it just ain’t natural. Some people just aren?t smilers, and it really shows; better to look like you than to look “happy.” 8. Nothing says hotel living like wearing shades at night. It’s a look that screams unintentionally single. Unless it’s a medical requirement, leave them at home. 9. I do what I can to guide the men in our town, but some can’t saved. Please, for the love of god, do not brandish drinks. You’re not a Viking or a vodka brand ambassador. 10. Peace signs. Really? If I need to explain this one, we need a sit-down. 11. Look at the camera. Sounds simple enough, but many in Generation Distraction can’t even stay focused for two snaps. If there’s a weak link in your photo, gently bring him or her into line. 12. The most important part? Don?t be an asshole. That’s something everyone should say to themselves in the mirror on a daily basis. It’s a guide for life, not just getting your picture taken. Need asshole specified? We can get to that another day… Oh, and if you want me to take your picture? Just don?t call me paparazzi. JJ Thompson is a man about town with a camera in one hand and a pen in the other. He is the founder of popular events site The Compendium Daily; follow @CompendiumDaily for the site and @jjtho for the man.

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