Photographer Tips To Look Good On A Zoom Meeting
Why should I look good on a Zoom or Teams call?
You don’t have to but it can help.
If you are simply lounging around meeting with friends or family it probably doesn’t matter too much but it can be irritating to some people.
In a business setting, some people will judge you for poor appearance on a video call. It may be unjustified but it is almost a year since the first lockdown and people have had plenty of time to get used to Zoom.
People may think that if you cannot present yourself well on Zoom then how much care and attention are you taking to your work.
Love it or hate it Zoom and other video platforms are here to stay and it’s important to look your best on it.
Here I’m setting out some tips, from a photographer’s perspective, as to how to improve your look on Zoom.
1. Sit facing a window
The quality of your video is all about light and having enough on your face.
One of the simplest ways to get more light onto your face is to sit facing a window, as opposed to with your back towards one.
Of course, if the sun a shining in directly at you then squinting isn’t a great look.
If this is the case then put up a net curtain temporarily when the sun is bright. This will diffuse the light and ensure you aren’t squinting.
2. Don’t have the laptop on your lap
Quite simply a video, or photo taken from a camera looking up to a face isn’t a good look.
The solution is quite simple, raise up your laptop.
Use a dining table as opposed to a coffee table, and even then raise the laptop, or other device with books, cushions or something similar.
The difference will be significant.
3. Use artificial light
If it is nighttime then clearly facing a window isn’t going to do much good for your video call, so it’s best to introduce artificial light.
If you have a ceiling light then make sure you that it is in front of you, to get a similar effect to the window.
A desk lamp can work well, but make sure it isn’t too much to the side.
There are plenty of LED video lights that are available on Amazon and these can be great. Many have a stand, or a clip so you can attach them to a screen.
If you go down the LED route then make sure you get one where the brightness can be changed and you can control the colour temperature.
A quick tip. If you double the distance of a lamp from you then there will be a quarter of the light on you. Conversely, if you half the distance the amount of light on your face will be four times as much.
4. Choose your backdrop well
People know that most people are working from home so they don’t expect you to be in a studio for your call.
You don’t need to be in a library with shelf after shelf of worthy book, a kitchen or living room is fine. Try to avoid bedrooms and bathrooms though, neither are ideal.
The main thing is to ensure your background is relatively tidy. No-one wants to see a pile of dirty washing and your underwear in the background.
If you don’t want to show your home then try and find a plain wall, or use a virtual backdrop.
Choose your virtual backdrop carefully. A library or a pleasant local scene is fine but stay away from the wacky – don’t be that person! They are probably the type that would wear a wacky tie to the office.
5. Centre yourself in the frame
This is one of my bugbears which annoys me perhaps more than it should.
So many people angle their camera so that the space above their head takes up half the screen, or even more.
In a similar vein make sure that you don’t chop off half your body at the side of the screen!
6. Dress appropriately
Pyjamas are fine if you are Zooming with family but not suitable if your MD is on the call.
7. Sit up straight
It’s better to sit on a dining chair, or similar than sitting on a sofa.
Lying on your back on a bed or sofa isn’t a good look no matter how comfortable it is.
8. Buy a webcam
Many webcams in laptops aren’t good quality, especially if it is old and/or cheap.
Invest in a separate webcam, they are quite cheap now.
Alternatively, you can use your phone as a webcam (whilst still having the Zoom on your laptop) – there are a number of apps to do this.
9. Touch up my appearance
There is a skin-smoothing video effect that you can enable.
You can find a checkbox under video settings.
10. Move further away from the screen
Experiment with your distance from the camera.
Don’t get too close – head and upper torso is better than the screen filled with your head.