A good, reliable target for setting white balance is plain old white coffee filters - reliable, neutral, with little to no optical brighteners. If you are shooting raw and then post processing in Capture One, Lightroom, or similar, you can shoot one at the beginning of your set, and use the custom white balance in post and sync the setting across everything you capture in the same series.
A more difficult aspect is setting proper exposure. While auto can work, you would run into issues with shot to shot consistency if your scene is high contrast. Using ‘spot’ metering can help if you choose the same point each time. The Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority settings will be more consistent, but really you would like to use Manual exposure control so that you can ensure that the you have best control over your depth of field and shutter speed. Getting manual exposure right without something like an 18% Gray Card can be more bothersome, but if your camera has live view with a histogram, you can see if anything in your scene is clipping and adjust from there. As long as everything falls within those bounds and you are working images in post, you are reasonably safe.
As Far as color reproduction, I am super picky about this when I am doing serious work. I use color checkers. They can serve as a white balance reference, an exposure target, and a point of comparison for color accuracy. They can be quite pricey, X-Rite makes the best ones.
For lighting, I will mirror what others have said. More (and bigger) is generally better. You want your camera to be on a lower ISO setting to get less noise, and your lens should be 2-3 stops down from wide open for optimal sharpness (in general for most lenses) while having a decently fast shutter and the only way to do this is with a lot of light.