Above are four photos, all taken with the same camera and completely unedited.
Clockwise starting with top left:
daylight (taken next to a window) - ohhhhhhhhh yeeeeeaaaaahhhh that's good
- inside with overhead lighting (no
flash) - see how washed out the colors are?
- inside with overhead lighting (with flash on) - lots of sharp shadows and bright spots, colors are strange
- inside with
overhead lighting (no flash, no tripod, shaky hands) - eek! not even saveable.
See what a huge difference nice indirect sunlight makes?
Before you start photographing a project, make sure you think about how you want to photograph it. If you take bad photos, it will be harder to rescue them during editing. While you can always tweak the brightness, contrast and saturation, you probably won't be able to fix blurry photos, extremely dark photos or photos taken with a bright flash as easily.
Here are the basic rules I follow for taking photos:
natural, indirect sunlight is always best. Document during the day near a window if possible.
If you don't have a good indirect light, try using a light box or two to three diffused lights.
Try to avoid using the flash if possible - if you have the option on your camera use a flash diffuser instead.
If you're taking detailed and up close photos make sure to use the macro setting on your camera. This tutorial will walk you through it!
In you're shooting in low light or you have an older camera - use a tripod! Older cameras tend to not have any sort of stabilization feature, and low lighting is always where camera shake shows up the worst. I have both a tabletop tripod and standard tripod for this reason.
Clean up the area you're shooting in! Try to keep the surface you're working on and the wall behind it nice and clear (or at least organized) if possible. If not, take process shots in another location. You want your project to be the focal point.