It's horrible to realize that you don't have pictures of all your work. There's at least 10 brooches out in the world that I have no photographs of. Having these pictures would help me to understand where Ive come from as an artist, and to see what ideas I keep working on. (Some styles/stitches/combinations are worth exploring in depth)
So I'm going to post a lot of links today, to great resources for taking great pictures and making it easier and less stressful.
How and why to use a tripod. When photographing my pieces I ALWAYS use my tripod. My hands tremor too much, even with medication, to capture a clear image. And cleaning up the image in GIMP isn't as easy for my brain as I'd like. I also like that my adjustable tripod can be used to hold my cell phone if I'm doing a Facebook video, or anything that requires me to look at the cell phone screen (such as looking at the inspiration pictures while I'm working) The tripod lets me adjust settings on my old point and shoot digital camera, without screwing up the setup or arrangements. (more on this later)
Etsy has some good tutorials and tips. Here's one I'm not fond of the display set up in this tutorial but there are some great tips in it. The advice about natural light is wonderful. Some of my earliest pictures were taken just at dawn, when the light illuminated a specific table. It was very lovely, but, I don't feel I have the time to wait for a day that isn't cloud-covered, or otherwise unsatisfactory, to take my pictures.
If I have to, I use a photography box. It's a plain cardboard box, about 12"x12" I've covered the inside with white copier paper (it's cheap) On the sides of the box I've cut out squares, about 6x6 (I'd photograph the box, but I'm not sure where I put it, and I'm not really in the mood to make another. I may have loaned it out) So I set it up with the opening to the front and that's where the camera is setting up, I put at least one light to the side of the box, so its light comes in filtered, and reflecting off the other white pieces of paper. That's usually sufficient, and I then take a LOT of pictures of the object, changing the settings on my camera, like color, shutter speed, light adaptations, things like that. (I have NO earthly idea what these settings do, except that the photos turn out faintly different) I also always use the timer on the camera, 10 seconds, that way any residual shaking from my hands fades away.
I always use a white bacground now, since it's easier to extract the image, in photoshop, for advertising and stuff.
After all the pictures are taken I load them on to my computer and crop them all to squares (that's my prefered shape for pictures, I think it looks cleaner and special). After that I start going through them, two by two. And I ask myself "Is A better than B" and toss the one that isn't better. It's like being at the optometrist. At the end of the exercize I usually have 2 or three good pictures and I'm happy.
Do check out the Etsy boards, they've got great tips for photographing your work, no matter what it is.
(if you're curious about one of the tags "Aaron's Birthday", Aaron is my friend and a wonderful photographer, and is doing amazing stuff in the Boston area. Because it's his birthday, I wrote a post about one way I use photography)