When you want to take a group photo that wouldn’t be complete without you in it and a selfie stick just won’t cut it, the self-timer saves the day. Taking a group shot can be pretty difficult. Taking a self-timed group shot where you’re not just a blur coming in from the side or half of the group isn’t out of focus is even harder. We’ve got 10 tips and tricks for mastering the self-timed group shot so you’ll always be in the picture!

1. Use a Tripod
Invest in a tripod; you won’t regret it. You can easily find a full-size tripod or an even more portable table-top tripod for under $30.

2. When You Don’t Have a Tripod
Since you probably don’t carry a tripod in your bag ‘just in case’, you’ll have to improvise when those impromptu group photo-ops pop up. A table or any firm surface is perfectly fine. Just make sure the edge of whatever your camera’s sitting on isn’t in the frame. You use something small, like a lens cap, to prop it up.

3. The Set-Up
It’s best to set the shutter speed as fast as possible, taking into account lighting, etc.

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4. Focus
As a rule you want to focus on the the person in the center or who’s closest to the camera. If that’s going to be you, focus on the person next to you. Larger groups require a higher f-stop.

5. The Setting
Once everyone’s in place, double-check to make sure there’s nothing odd or distracting in the background. Keep an eye out for things like signs over people’s heads or deer heads that will wind up making it look like Dad has antlers — you get the idea.

6. Wireless Remote
Save yourself from having to repeatedly sprint from the camera to to your place in the shot and get a little more time to compose yourself before the shutter starts clicking by using a wireless remote. Set the timer from the remote, then slip it into your pocket.


7. Get Lots of Shots
Set your dSLR to Continuous or your Smartphone to Burst.

8. Intervalometer
Intervalometers are actually meant for time-lapse photography but they’re also really handy for self-timed group shots. If your camera doesn’t come with a built-in one you can buy an intervalometer for under $20. You can set it to take X amount of pictures at X intervals which helps everyone loosen up between shots and even forget about the camera.

9. There’s an App for That
Yes, you can use your Smartphone to take self-timed pics. ProCamera ($4.99) practically transforms your iPhone into a digital camera and A Better Camera (free) does the same for you Android.

10. Smile!
Don’t forget to loosen up and have fun!