This is not an exhaustive list, but I have found if you can get a few basics right you can achieve a fairly good standard of photography;
1. Light – Use a good light source, light from the front ie the side your camera is, position your light directly over the figure and tilt it towards the model slightly. As you can see in the picture below there is a shadow cast behind the model, to prevent this use two lights, one from the right and above and the other from the left and above. If you can, fit a Daylight bulb for pure natural light. See image below
2. Backdrop – Use a complimentary background, I have found that models with lots of flesh a light tones look better on a black background and the reverse for darker tones, I use a light blue for darker models. To set it up just use a piece of coloured paper/card that is blu tacked down at the front and is resting on a small box at the rear. This creates a curve that forms a smooth backdrop behind the model. See image below
3. Camera – To avoid shaky out of focus shots there are two things you can do, always use the timer and use a tripod (or rest the camera on the table/desk you are using). On most cameras you can change the shutter speed, on my images its set to 1/85, the longer the shutter is open the more light can get into the picture. A secondary setting to change would be the aperture setting, it’s normally displayed on most cameras as ‘F’ with two numbers after it, for example mine is set to F/3.2 .
4. Lastly take lots and lots of shots and edit out the worst ones, I would normally say from 50 shots I may get 1 or 2 good ones, so just snap away.
There is not one set up to fit all, but I found experimenting around with the points outlined above that you can find an environment that can produce some very nice images.
Thanks for reading.