I thought I would share a few tips I've learned along the way, that help with a professional, white background look.
*Before you pick up your camera, make sure that the item you are photographing is exactly as you want it to look. If loops are slightly uneven, chances are it will look even worse in a photograph. Spend some time getting your items positioned so that you are not photographing it at an angle, or it will make your bow look lopsided and uneven. Double sided tape can be used, if you have an item that is not wanting to lay completely flat.
1) I use a lightbox (google it, and you can get a small one for around $50) and use it in adequate natural lighting so that you don't have to use a flash. Although an expensive camera is not essential, I counted it as a business expense and bought a Digital Nikon D90 (business write off!) and a 50mm 1.8 lens (another write off!), both of which allow me to better control my images.
2) After photographing thousands, yes thousands of pictures for my website, I JUST realized that my images and colors turn out soooooo much more accurate if I shoot in manual, and adjust the lighting for accuracy of the item I want photographed. I can't believe it took me this long to figure this out!
3) Have a digital SLR but don't know how to shoot in manual? There are tons of free resources online that will walk you through step by step.
4) If you plan to use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to remove the background (making it perfect white), it helps to have a contrasting background. If I am photographing a white bow, I put it on a black background. Ivory and light pinks go on a black background. This way, it is very easy to isolate only the background, and turn it white! When I learned this, it was like a lightbulb went off. So much easier to get a white background now for my lighter colored bows!
5) As mentioned in step 4, if you want a truly white background like professional images, it is nearly impossible to achieve through the camera alone, even with a lightbox and the best exposed image. After consulting with some professional image companies, when I thought about hiring this task off, I found out that even they, with their professional equipment and experience, use Photoshop to remove the backgrounds. Photoshop Elements is a much cheaper version (around $60-80), but will do everything you need. Select your background, feather, and replace it with a white background. Flatten your layers, and it is done! Depending on the version and type of photoshop you have, again you can google step by step instructions on how this is done. It is amazing how much of a difference it can make to remove the background of a product image.
I hope some of this has helped. Images on a website are the only chance your customers have to view your item. If the images are subpar, sales will be too. I hope someone found this useful!