We’re all spending a lot more time in front of cameras these days - attending meetings, hosting presentations, getting together with friends and family, even going to events. And most of the time, we’re doing all these things from the comfort of our own homes using our computer or phone cameras. Here are 5 tips to help you look and feel your very best the next time you’re on camera.
#1 Nail Your Lighting
Lighting is so important because it’s the way people will be able to see you. The goal is to make sure your face is bright and evenly lit without overexposing your skin.
Natural light can be your friend here. It’s easiest to position yourself facing a window, and indirect light is key so it’s not hitting you directly and harshly. You’ll also want to make sure your camera setup (whether it’s your laptop, smartphone on a tripod, or another arrangement) isn’t blocking your light and casting shadows across your face or body.
If facing a window isn’t feasible, you can use artificial lights. Look around your space. Floor or desk lamps often work nicely. Ideally, your light bulbs would be cool white light (versus warm yellow light). Cool colored lighting helps your skin tone look natural and avoids any yellow/orange coloring that comes with warmer lighting.
If you’re using lamps, it’s best to have the light source at eye level and place it either directly in front or to both of your sides at 45° angles. If your lights are casting harsh shadows on your background, you can often soften them by using white/creamy lamp shades, bouncing light off a white wall or ceiling instead of pointing it directly at you, or covering the bulb with paper or paper towels (make sure your light source doesn’t get too hot if you’re using paper).
Avoid having a window or any other bright light source behind you. This can draw focus away from you or overexpose your background leaving you silhouetted and dark.
If you’re looking to purchase lights to help you look your best, there are lots of options these days in the form of ring and LED lights.
#2 Know How To Place Your Camera & Frame Yourself
You might know this if you’ve perfected the art of the selfie, but placing your camera at or slightly above eye level is going to help you look your best. This will create the most flattering angle and will avoid the dreaded double chin with a too low camera or the giant forehead that comes with too high of an angle.
Also, make sure your camera is stationary. Desks, counters, tables, and tripods are all your best friends when it comes to making sure your camera is stable so you’re not stuck holding it for the duration of your call, meeting, or event.
Now that you know how to place your camera, let’s talk about how to frame yourself. Center is almost always best and the easiest way to set things up. You’ll want to make sure your face (or body) is taking up as much of the screen as possible while leaving a small amount of head room (space above your head in the frame) and equal space to both the left and right of you.
There may be times when you’re looking to get a little creative with your framing. If this is the case, then position yourself either on the right or left third of the frame while still leaving a little head room and space on either side of you in frame.
And you’ll want to ensure whatever part(s) of your body are in frame are parallel to your camera. This means that if you’re sitting in front of the camera, you’ll want to sit up straight. A pillow behind your back can often help eliminate slouching. If you’re standing in front of the camera, stand up straight and avoid leaning on furniture, the wall behind you, or shifting your weight to one side or the other. Sitting and standing up straight will ensure that the camera isn’t throwing your face or body out of proportion.
#3 Design Your Background
Virtual backgrounds are all the rage on some video conferencing platforms. But oftentimes, while fun, these backgrounds aren’t your best bet. They often glitch or cause parts of you to disappear from view. You’re much better off making sure your real life background is just as camera ready as you are.
A single color solid background will almost always look clean, polished, and professional. And works nicely in many on-camera situations. Take a look around your space. Are there any undecorated, solid color walls that would make a nice backdrop for you? Oftentimes, neutral colored walls work best - white, cream, gray - but a more brightly colored wall could also be fun - purple, blue, yellow. You just want to make sure the wall color isn’t turning your skin any funny colors as the light bounces off it. And it’s best to stay away from really dark or bright green colored walls.
If you’re looking to infuse your frame with some more personality or incorporate your surroundings, pick an area you like and spend a little time styling it in a way that looks nice when you’re in the frame with it. You’ll want your background to be as uncluttered as possible and that you don’t have any weird objects popping out of your head or body - like plants, lamps, tv screens, or furniture pieces.
With any background, you’ll want to attempt to have at least 4 feet of space between you and it. This will help your camera focus on you rather than your background.
#4 Select Your Wardrobe
Solid colors play best on camera (but make sure your clothing colors don’t match your background). In most cases, you’ll want to avoid patterns, but prints can be alright if they aren’t super tiny or close together. Small prints and intricate patterns often make it difficult for cameras to focus correctly.
When you’re picking your clothes, you’ll generally want to avoid all white, black, or red pieces. Reds tend to bleed on camera and whites and black are difficult to expose properly. Ultimately, these colors might not play nicely with your skin tone.
And speaking of skin tone, it’s a good idea to know what colors play nicely with yours. You might know that a certain color looks great on you or even enhances your eye color nicely. These are your colors and the ones you’ll want to gravitate towards when you’re on camera. You’ll want to avoid any colors that wash you out or match your skin color too much.
You’ll also want to be intentional about how casual or dressed up your attire is. Match your clothes to the occasion - ensuring you're not over or under dressed - so you always feel your best. Also, it's best practice to keep your jewelry and accessories to a minimum so they don’t distract from you and your face on camera, but certainly feel free to wear what matches your personality.
Make sure to try on your clothes ahead of time to ensure they fit, feel comfortable, and are wrinkle free.
And last but not least, good ‘ol preparation is the linchpin to looking and feeling your best on camera. It doesn’t have to take long, but truly carving out time to set up your lighting, place your camera, check your framing, style your background, and select, try on, and de-wrinkle your wardrobe before your next big presentation, meeting, or event goes a long way. With all these elements in place ahead of time, you’ll feel confident, excited, and more like your authentic self when it comes time to step in front of a camera. If being in front of a camera stresses you out, you’re not alone! Being prepared is one great step you can take to decrease any anxieties. You’ll know you look great and it’ll feel effortless. Then you’ll be free to smile and connect with your audience on the other side of lens - whoever they may be.
Here at Talus Films, it’s our job to help folks feel empowered, confident, and like their best selves when they step in front of the camera. And we’d love to work with you! Our expertise can be with you every step of the way on your next video project. CONTACT US today to get started!