Looking Your Best on Video Calls
Video calls don’t look to be going anywhere soon, so I thought I’d give some quick tips to make sure you look your best in your team meetings, client calls, or just chatting with family. Hopefully, you’ll see your own video call setup talked about here, but if not, let me know!
If you’re using a laptop or other portable device, it’s best if you can find a place in your house where you can face a window. If possible, you’ll want the light coming in at a 45-degree angle instead of straight on. Also, direct sunlight streaming in through a window can make things like wrinkles stand out (not that there’s anything wrong with wrinkles), so your best bet is soft light, rather than harsh sunlight. And that’s not to mention it would be pretty difficult to conduct a video call with the sun glaring right in your eyes.
Make sure you don’t have a strong light source from behind you. Backlighting can make you look like you’re shrouded in shadows. That might be a good look for a virtual Halloween gathering, but presenting a financial report calls for
If you’re not able to sit comfortably in front of a window, a desk lamp can help light you. Position your lamp so it’s above eye level and aimed toward a wall in front of you. You may think this is counterproductive, but it actually reflects the light back at you, creating that soft light effect you want.
An important note: this works for white or light-colored walls, but not as well with dark walls. A lamp with a shade can create a soft lighting effect. Or, if you’re working with dark walls and a bare bulb light source, affix a plain white poster board to a wall in front of you to create your own white wall.
For some working from home, the kitchen table is your home office where overhead lighting is what you have to work with. Overhead lighting works well as long as it’s lighting you from the front and not lighting your shoulders.
If moving your setup is out of the realm of possibility, then you can use a light-reflecting trick similar to using a poster board. Place white paper down on your desk so that the overhead light is reflected up at your face.
Framing the Shot
Once you’ve figured out the best lighting for your situation, it’s time to think about framing yourself in the camera. Most webcam and laptop cams have a wide-angle, so proper distancing will be the key to looking your best. Too close and your proportions will look off. Too far away and you look very small in comparison.
Make sure you’re filling the frame of the camera, you wouldn’t want to be just a head at the bottom of the frame. I’m sure the decor behind you is amazing, but I’m sure the other video call participants would much rather see more of you and less of your wall art.
If your organization is back in the office or taking a hybrid approach and needs to update its corporate photography, take a look at the precautions I’m taking and reach out to me for more photography information.