Lights, Camera, Action – How to Look Good On a WebcamApril 12, 2020
In this new age of Social distancing and shelter at home during this pandemic, webinars, ZOOM calls, and video emails have become the new normal. It seems that some people are just naturals and look and sound like movie stars and then others seem to struggle with just looking like ourselves. This article has a few tips that will make you looking and sounding great in this brave new world of video communication.
Let’s start with the obvious, if you want to look good, ladies, do your makeup. And not to be exclusionary, guys, if you are so inclined, do YOUR make up too! We want to concentrate on eyes, brows, and lips but nothing more than you normally do. However, this is one time you will want to use more powder than normal. The added light with a camera tends to give even the driest skin a little shine Sit up straight, smile, make an effort… you’re on camera!
Use some nice lighting. Natural lighting In front of a large window is always best. If this is not possible, a simple desk lamp right over the lens of your device will work. If you don’t have a desk lamp to position there, I use a lamp with a white lightbulb (not yellow) positioned behind my laptop.
You don’t want to be:
- Backlit – light coming from behind will obscure your face. Think witness protection program …
- Side lit – The light coming from one side. Even if it’s your good side, LOL, it will look like your bad side.
- Lit from below with just your laptop screen. This will make you look more like a blue Frankenstein.
- No lighting from above – The shadows cast from this type of lighting make even the most glamorous person look like a creature from the latest horror film.
Remember, stay lit from the front with a soft light. It shapes the face and doesn’t cause shadowing. And to make that work, you need to remove the other lighting. If you have a window to either side, draw those shades, and no light from behind. If there are fluorescent lights above, turn them off.
You don’t want the lens to look at you from underneath. It’s better to have the camera angle aimed slightly down on the person. That means raise your device so that it is just equal to your hairline. And then angle the screen so you are centered on the device. Keep yourself centered on the device and the light centered to the lens. This is what causes symmetry and that symmetry is what makes the face look great. Placing an envelope box under your laptop or a ream of paper under a Monitor should put the camera at the right height. If using a camera on a phone or tablet, use a tripod and adjust accordingly
Don’t sit too close to the device. Laptop, monitor, and phone cameras are wide-angle devices and they aren’t adjustable. If you get too close to a wide-angle lens it exaggerates things that are close to it, like your nose or your chin … not a good look.
Start with a clean, uncluttered background. Keep it simple. If there is a whole office behind you or a wall of pictures, that’s a lot of visual noise going on behind you. Try to keep it simple.
Engage with your Audience
We all seem to want to watch ourselves when on camera. You want to look as if you are looking at and engaging with the other person or persons on the other side of the camera. That means you have to look at the lens. That’s where the eye contact happens
What to wear?
Make it something comfortable, so that you aren’t fidgeting with anything. Avoid stripes and checks or tiny patterns. Solids are always safe.
If you are hosting a ZOOM call, a webinar or just recording video to send via email, I recommend using a headset. I use the one that came with my iPhone that has the microphone jack. Airpods or another blue tooth set up is also a good alternative. We don’t know how long we are going to be doing this so I don’t recommend running out and getting the latest microphone or spotlight unless you have discovered that you like doing webinars and you are planning to continue to do more. You may want to investigate other microphone options.
If you are on a call with someone and there is a lot of background noise due to being outside or a dog barking, you may want to try a free Chrome extension called KRISP that magically mutes background noise.
You’ll be looking good, sounding good, and feeling good! I think you’re ready for your close up!