1) Lighting is everything. Of course! Photography is the recording of light so this is the first thing that is important! If you ever want to know a real party pooper invite a photographer on a vacation and they'll complain about the lighting the whole time (I won't though if you invite me!) Set up your item in a very well lit area. This is best near a window or even better outside. Make sure there is even light on the item.
2) If you can change your ISO (which is your sensitivity of your sensors..in the digital world) change it so that it is about 200. This really depends on how much light is reaching your item. So if you go through all these steps and your photo is too dark or blurry, start back here and increase your ISO. You can change your ISO in all DSLRs (those big fancy cameras), all hybrids (can't fit in your pocket but not as big as a DSLR), and most point and shoots (fits in your pocket).
3) The next important thing when showcasing your beautiful work is changing your aperture or your f/stop. Same thing. For instance, I photographed some cupcakes for a company and I wanted the cupcake in front to be in focus and the cupcakes in the back to be blurry. Changing your f/stop will help you do this. If you want an extreme focus change make your f/stop a little number (mine can go f2.8) if you want everything in the frame in focus then make your f/stop a big number (mine can go f/22). If it's possible on your camera move your camera off of the Automatic mode (go on you can do it!) and turn it to the "AV" mode. In this mode you tell the camera that you want complete control over the aperture (or f/stop). Personally I think this is the BEST mode to photograph items in! Advanced tip: In this mode you won't have to worry about metering because the camera will tell you what the shutter needs to be.
Here is an example of using a small f/stop number to make more things blurry...
4) If you have set your camera in the "AV" mode then there is nothing left to do but to snap the photo! Check that photo in the LCD if it's too dark then like I said increase your ISO (just a little at a time) and if your photo is too blown out then decrease your ISO, decrease some light coming to your item, OR you could have a metering problem which can be solved by looking at your light meter (which probably looks like something below) and making sure that when you press your shutter in half way the dancing dot is underneath the middle part (as pictured below).
If you're photo is not in focus (this is also a severe problem) then start back at increasing the light to your item (open the window more, turn on a lamp), the increasing your ISO (just a little) and then snap the photo. Or uh duh did you forget to focus? It can happen to the best of us. Don't take the photo unless it looks in focus in the LCD screen or viewfinder.
Just another simple tip if you're posting your photos on the web. DOWNSIZE the photos! I expect you to take very large photos! Don't put them on the internet. Have you ever been to a site when you have to wait for photos to load?! I close the window and never look at the photos, I just don't have the patience! Decreasing the size of your photos will help them load faster on your page, the photos DO NOT have to be large for the web! The photo above is 450x675, I think that's a great size for the web!
If all else fails read your manual (I know yawn fest) about these specific things: "ISO", "AV mode" (or "aperture"), and then "light meter".
Kaitlin Roten is a photographer located in Wake Forest, North Carolina. She specializes in stylish, timeless, and unique portrait and wedding photography. She also photographs everything else, but hates saying that. Her most recent work can be found on her blog: http://2point5d.com/blog.