It’s safe to say you’ve mastered the art of the selfie. But with vacation season on the horizon, it’s time to turn your lens on your one and only awkward family. Here, six tips for photographing that wacky bunch of lunatics.

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Forget “cheese”

Look in the mirror. Say "cheese." Do you look happy? We didn’t think so. Next time you want folks to smile, remind them of something actually funny--like the time Grandma Maude asked if she could borrow your “thongs.” (She meant flip-flops.)

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Start clicking before they’re ready

Take photos while everyone’s still laughing, looking around and figuring out where to stand. You’ll get great candid moments--and fewer shots where people’s arms are plastered to their sides.

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Forget the flash

Unless you’re a pro, using a flash almost always results in bad lighting, red eyes and an unnatural, blown-out look. Seek out natural light whenever you can, and even if things seem a little dim, try a few shots minus the flash; just hold your camera very still as you click to reduce blur.

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Get close...really close

Especially when photographing children, sneak in for a super-up-close shot whenever you can. Even when there are tears, squints or frowns, everything looks more professional up close. (Also--less chance of accidentally getting the garbage bin in the background.)

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Don’t dress alike

Wear complementary colors and mix up the look with a few different prints--but don’t make everyone dress exactly the same. You’re a family, not a lineup of bridesmaids.

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Make sure you make it in the photo

Dear Ms. Photographer: You’ll be sad down the road if you’re in zero family pictures. Solicit a stranger to take a few snaps of the whole clan (including you), or buy a tripod if you must. And remember to smile. Even if you hate Cousin Alan.

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