Get CANDIDS. Your subjects are probably more comfortable when they are not looking into the camera and saying "cheeeeeeeese." So stand back and shoot from a distance. If you have a telephoto lens, use it. It will draw you up close, but give your family and friends the autonomy to be themselves while you get great pictures of them.
Watch for EMOTION and REACTION. So you've lined everyone up for the group photo, and they're cutting up. Well, that image could be just as good as the posed picture. They're laughing and having a great time (totally uncooperative, right?). Your best shot could be the one you don't take.... if you pass the moment by. When you see laughter, action, emotion, hit the shutter.
Shoot with a FAST SHUTTER. When kids are active, make sure your camera settings are fast enough to get sharp pictures. Yes, you may have to read your camera manual (again). And as the sun goes down and you are losing light, you may have to make some adjustments. Most cameras are well-equipped to handle action and lower light. Turn the dial on your camera... those settings are there to help you maximize your photography potential.
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