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How many in the shot? The more people, the more likely that at least one of them will be blinking/yawning/looking away. If you are doing a posed shot instead of candid, you can increase your odds of getting a good shot by planing where to take it to eliminate the bad lighting, etc. (and maybe shut the dog up in another room.)

If you're using a DSLR, use the fastest shutter speed you can get (increase the ISO if necessary to allow that.) That will help avoid blurring. If using a point & shoot, there are probably auto settings for portraits (which will blur the background somewhat) or action shots (helpful with a large group to keep everything in focus.) Most digital cameras require you to partially depress the shutter button to focus, THEN press all the way down once you've gotten the noise/green box/green dot that indicates the camera has focused; if you just press the shutter button down you've pretty much guaranteed a blurry, poorly lighted photo.

Indoors, if possible have them facing a window with indirect light to avoid the sun glint and shadow issue. Try posing them on a stairway to get their heights so that their heads are better aligned. If you have them all shut their eyes and tell them to OPEN them at the count of three, you lessen the chance of some of them closing their eyes. Also, it's fun to have them all make a funny face after you've taken the "serious" shots.

Outside check your location for things like poles, trees, etc. so that there AREN'T any to grow out of their heads. It's easier for the photographer to move to avoid that, too — just a step or two left or right ought to do it. The photographer can also stand on a bench or something so that they're looking down on the group, lessening the odds of weird backgrounds and more flattering for the subjects because they will be looking up a bit, lessening unflattering double chins.
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