I am not a professional photographer.
For every decent picture I take there's about 5 before and 5 after that aren't so great. I do however have some rules that I try to follow so I don't pull my hair out, get frustrated, scream at the kids, and give up during a photo shoot. When I follow these rules I'm not as disappointed when going through the pictures later on my computer.
1) Prepare everyone ahead of time with what you want to accomplish.
In this case I told the kids before we were standing in a chigger infested field sweating that we'd be taking some pictures standing, some pictures in the chair (and yes, we'd take turns getting to sit in the chair). Sometimes Carter would hold Jonah and sometimes Evan would hold Jonah. If they know what's going to happen ahead of time it's easier to move from one pose to the next.
2) Shoot in digital! It takes so much of the pressure off. You can snap a million photos and hope there's a good one in there somewhere.
This series is a perfect example. Evan is a stone cold poser! He looks directly at the camera, smiles, doesn't blink and even attempts to comfort Jonah all while looking right into the lens.
3) Listen to their ideas.
Rather than fighting with Evan about holding the bluebonnet in the picture (which I started to do), let them have their way for a few pictures. What does it hurt? He's excited that we used his idea and even though I'm not going to hang these on the wall, I still enjoy them and they make me laugh a little. Trust me...a strong-willed child needs to be heard, accepted, and validated often. This was an easy way to do that without a huge fight.
4) When it's sunny use the "1...2...3...open" approach.
They're not going to be able to stare into the sun while you set up your shot. To avoid as many squinty eye and closed eye shots explain to the kids that they can keep their eyes shut until you count to three and say open. Practice inside for a while so they understand what it feels like and how to open their eyes and not look crazed.
You might still get a picture like this though.
5) Make sure you're the only one with a camera at the photo shoot.
It's frustrating to upload your pictures when you get home thinking have a decent picture of all three boys but one is actually looking at someone else's camera.
Only have one person giving direction too. When there's too many leaders and too many cameras the kids get confused and frustrated. You will not get good pictures if they are frustrated.
You have to keep the models happy!
(Evan's goofy smile in this one cracks me up.)
6) Don't let the models eat...not even the props.
7) Most of us mommies aren't professional photographers so lighting may not be perfect and your composition may be off a little. The easiest way to improve your pictures is to eliminate distractions.
Don't let them wear distracting clothing. Solid color shirts are best.
Jonah's socks were really cute that day, but the label on the bottom was distracting. Pay attention to those things and remove them from the picture.
Also look for things like houses, people, or telephone lines that might end up in the background of your photo. Your kid may look cute but if there's an old junker car in the top corner of the picture you won't be able to use that for a greeting card. Try your best to pay attention to these things. Sometimes they can't be cropped out.
8) Don't be too hard on yourself. Accept that you're doing your best and capturing memories that you otherwise wouldn't have if you didn't try.