In winter the conditions for photographing pots are brief and fleeting at my house. Except for the smallest pots, I shoot in the south-facing living room during the perhaps three hours (at most) of daylight that the sun not at too acute an angle to cast even light. I hang the backdrop where my TV usually sits. It's kind of a hassle to get all set up, so when I do it, I try to shoot a lot of work.
I used to only get pots photographed once a year. I'd set aside one or two good pots out of each firing, and then choose about a dozen to take to Peter Lee, when I was in St. Paul, or, later, to Jay York in Portland. I would still use a professional to take the shots if I were still applying to art fairs, but just for Etsy (and Craftgawker!), I find I can take an adequate photo myself. It's all in the right tools:
The graduated gray background I got for around $45 from Photo Tech, Inc. The camera is relatively old, an Olympus c-750, 4.0 megapixels. Five or six megapixels is standard in cameras made now, but I find that this serves just fine for my purposes. Importantly, it has a remote setting, so you don't have to touch the camera to activate the shutter. Until I learned how to use it, every single pottery photo I took was ever-so-slightly out of focus. You can get them on Ebay for a couple hundred dollars. After destroying two of the cheapest available tripods in a few months just through ordinary use, I finally, just today, went the next step up: $3 more. (I told you I am cheap, didn't I?) This one is so much better! The legs adjust infinitely and it has a teeny-tiny bubble level under the camera, so you can make sure you are shooting, well, level.