The Coronavirus doesn’t have to stop your meetings and consultations. We have access to many free video call apps: Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, Duo, Zoom … With just a few simple tricks, you no longer have to shy away from a video call. Because when you look professional, you will feel amazing. And guys, when you feel amazing, you ROCK your meetings. Don’t think it matters?
Tell me… which of these two Kelly’s would you hire?
These two screen shots were taken in the same room, same outfit/hair/makeup, with the same webcam.
Now do you trust me?! Let’s dive in!
Lighting for Video Calls on Webcam
Lighting subjects beautifully is a photographer’s #1 job! To look your very best, you want a soft but strong frontal light.
LIGHTING ANGLE: The ideal lighting is often a light source in front of you, but slighting positioned above and angled down. The light can be cast across your face on an angle (up to 45 degrees), or it can be positioned directly in front of you. An angled light highlights the shapes of your face. If the shaping shadows are too dark or too deep, slowly reposition the light further away at a reduced angle until you achieve your best light. Direct frontal light can be very nice for video too if you would prefer to flood your entire face with light.
HOW MUCH LIGHT: Extra light, when doing video, is very important. The brighter your space (and the light on your face), the better quality your video will be. When lighting is dark and spaces are dark, webcam video, just like photography, become pixelated leading to poor quality imaging.
The main thing to avoid when lighting yourself for a webcam is backlighting. Backlighting is a bright light source behind you, like a lamp, window, or sliding glass door. The reason this is bad is because most webcams are going to auto adjust their brightness or darkness based on the overall light coming in the lens. If there is a bright backlight, your face may be dark or even silhouetted.
How do we create this ideal lighting?
ARTIFICIAL LIGHT: If you are sitting at a desk, set up a lamp behind your webcam, so that you face the light when looking towards the webcam. If you need more light, you can add more wattage to your lamp, add more lamps.
NATURAL LIGHT: During daylight hours, you can find beautiful natural light in your house. Find a seat facing a large glass window or door. As long as direct sunlight is not trickling on you, you are good. Sliding glass doors are amazing sources of soft, strong, bounced light, because they are HUGE and often positioned at a driveway, patio, or deck. Asphalt, concrete, and wood surfaced grounds are great reflectors of light.
Position of Webcam
The position of your webcam in relation to YOU is a big factor in flattery. Often times we are doing a video call looking DOWN at our phone or looking DOWN at our laptop. And that drastic angle often means your buddy/client on the other end is looking up your nose. There are two ways to combat this:
- Raise your webcam closer to eye level. It doesn’t matter if the webcam is a bit below or above your eye level – it is your preference. Adjust your light source if needed.
- Lower your seat. This achieves the same thing as raising your camera, but we’re moving YOU instead of the camera. Adjust your light source if needed.
Posing for Video Calls on Webcam
Sit tall, tilt your head forward (chin towards chest), and push your nose forward towards the webcam. You may experience a sudden flash back of the chicken dance! This forward push helps to lengthen your neck, and stretch out the fat we all have looming under our chins. Stretching out that fat helps to define your jawline, which shaves off several pounds. This angle also means your buddy/client can’t see up your nose.
Backgrounds for Video Calls on Webcam
Since we already touched on lighting (remember, avoid super bright light sources behind you when on video), the biggest factor is to make sure your background is simple and/or professional. If you are talking to buddy, you might not care so much. But if you are talking to a client, they don’t need to see an unmade bed, a counter full of dirty dishes, or thing like that. Plus, we don’t want anything embarrassing in the background – so a room sweep is not a bad idea.
To recap… to look your best on a video call / webcam, do the following:
Find soft, bright light.
Position webcam near eye-level.
Stretch your face forward.
Check your background.