These tips will help you get the kind of group photos you'll be proud to share with friends and family.

1. Always prepare
Make your group photos quicker and less frustrating for yourself and everyone by taking 5 to 10 minutes to prepare in advance. You'll be amazed at how much knowing what you want, being ready to get it and having a group photo strategy will ease the task and improve your chances at total success. So, get your camera out, check your batteries and find your tripod. Then, go around and collect cameras from everyone who would like a group photo of their own.

2. Pick your photo spots
Find the most appealing spots for a group shot. Ensure that everyone will be able to squeeze in, consider what furniture will have to be re-arranged and what clutter or problematic items may have to be temporarily removed. For example, the best spot in the house for a group photo may include a picture in the background with a highly-reflective glass cover over it. You'll want to move it to avoid flash reflection. Set up the shot beforehand so you'll know whether the tripod fits where you need it to go before you call everyone into the room.

3. Choose the best times
Picking the right moment to take a photo can make all the difference. The best time for a special occasion photo is often just before the meal is served. Everyone is hanging around waiting already and will likely still look their best – think kids without stained shirts.

4. Think about lighting
If it is still daylight, let in as much light as you can for improved exposure, but remember to keep it beside or behind you. If it is night, shut the curtains on any windows to reduce reflective surfaces and use an appropriate flash mode setting to compensate for the negative effects of artificial light.

5. Talk up your photos
Think about why you want a high-quality group photo and be prepared to share these reasons with everyone, preferably beforehand to get them excited about the idea. "Everyone is looking so happy and festive, let's get some really nice shots so we can remember this special occasion..." Get everyone involved by offering to take a photo with their camera and to share your photos with them by e-mail.

6. Take Your Time
Ensure your efforts end in success by taking the time to get the photos right. About 5 minutes will usually be all it takes to snap 3 to 4 photos with everyone's camera for insurance. Make sure to use your red-eye mode if the light is dim and explain how it works to people so they don't blink too soon. Also, don't forget to use your timer and jump in the photos yourself.

7. Check Your Photos
With all your preparation and winning tactics, you'll likely have some really great group photos. It is still a good idea to double check though, so take 5 minutes after dinner or when the time is right to check your photos on your computer. If you have everyone's e-mail address, it can be fun to share the photos with them right away as well, so they have them as soon as they get home.