As a shop owner, I often have to take photos of my products to list online. I like to do this without any fancy equipment whatsoever -- I don't even have a camera. Seriously.
I thought I'd share how I do it, in case anyone else is interested, or intimidated by suggestions that say you need super expensive DSLR cameras and lightboxes and reflectors, etc. Now obviously my photos aren't quite as amazing as the ones taken by people who DO have all those things. But I think I manage pretty well with what I have, and I'm usually pleased with the results of my photo shoots.
To take my pictures I use: an iphone, two 20x30 pieces of foam board from the dollar store, masking tape, 1/4 yard of fabric from JoAnn's, and mid-morning sunlight. Optional: tin foil.
1. Score the back of the foam board so that you can bend it in half. You don't want to go all the way through and cut it, just score it so that it folds evenly. 2. Prop the foam board on a table that's facing a window. Don't use any artificial lighting. I usually take pictures somewhere between 10am-12pm. In the summer the good light lasts a little longer but at this time of year the shadows start getting very harsh not long after noon. 3. Tape your fabric to the top of the board, and pull it to the end so that it creates a seamless background. You don't want it to fall into the crease in the foam board. 4. Prop up another piece of white foam board next to the backdrop, facing your light source. This will help bounce the light back and reflect any shadows on the other side of your product.
In my home we have a giant window on the other side of the house, so light comes into my room from both sides. But if you don't have any light source on the other side, you might want to try covering the foam board with tin foil to better reflect the light. When it's positioned at the perfect angle (adjusting it will help you figure out what angle is best) it really works wonders at softening up harsh shadows!
Here's an example of a photo I took with this backdrop, lightened a tad in Photoshop. Like I said, the results obviously aren't as good as they'd be if you *do* have lots of fancy equipment, but I think they're not too shabby either :)
ps. The dinosaur brooch is available in my shop!