3 Tips for Lighting Video Calls | Education

April 2, 2020

I’ve both literally and figuratively put Zoom through a workout this week… I’m sure many of y’all may be spending a little more time video calling coworkers, friends, and family… If you’re anything like me, you may also find yourself be hosting virtual classes or workshops. (Click here to get in on my free/donation-based fitness classes!) This is a blog post that I never thought I would write (and I’m giggling a little as I put it together, but I thought the topic was light, a little silly, and also applicable for all of us in this season. As a bonus, it also gives me an excuse to talk about one of my favorite topics: light!

We’re not going to get too deep today, but I did want to share a few tips and tricks to help you look your best on your video calls (even if you’re hopping on straight out of bed!) or in the video content you’re creating! Keep in mind, our focus today is LIGHT… you do you when it comes to how you want to style yourself and I’ll do me in my no makeup and sweaty ponytails. Whether you are recording Tik Toks, are going Live on Insta, are tuning in for a virtual happy hour or find yourself in another Zoom meeting, these simple tips and tricks will help you find light in your home that will make your front-facing camera just a little more flattering.

Face into a window when possible

If you’ve spent any amount of time around here, you know that natural light is this girl’s FAVORITE! Why’s that? It is super flattering and accessible for the most part (all you need is a window!). Plus… it’s free! I love using window light and natural light in my photography, and the SAME principle applies with simple video recordings/calls. Look for a window with even, indirect light and face it. It’s that simple! That said, the larger the light source the better. You’ll be able to put a bit of space between you and the light in that case, resulting in plenty of beautiful, soft light!

Now… WHY does this work so well? Light moves in a straight line, meaning… it doesn’t bend, even if there is something in its way. That’s why we have shadows! When you have light coming from a source straight overhead, it will still move in this straight line. Anything in the light’s way will create a shadow, meaning your eyes will be darker and there may be a shadow under your nose or chin. When the light is coming from in front of you, it’ll soften or eliminate the shadows that may have you feeling a little self-conscious.

That said, if you don’t have a window easily accessible, use this same light principle with a lamp! (Or if you really want to spend the money… a ring light!) I recommend keeping a little distance from your light source for the most flattering outcome.

Clean, even light is your friend

Two parts here: direct light and color temperature…

First… direct, sun-in-your-eyes, light is going to confuse your camera like crazy. Not only is this a super uncomfortable for you, but it will also make you look like a washed-out ghost (or more technically… it will overexpose your face!). Your camera doesn’t always know what it is looking at and doesn’t always “understand” that it needs to expose for your face. If you are finding harsh shadows or can’t quite get the light right on your face, move a little further away from your light source! I also recommend looking for indirect window light to help with this!

Second… if you feel like your skin may be a funky color and it is bothering you, first… check how many lights you have on. Did you know that different types of light have a different temperature and are “read” as a different color by your camera? Your eye is smart enough to adjust for the average of the light color it is seeing, but your computer, phone, or camera may not be. If it is an option, I recommend using one light source (like a window!) to ease your camera’s confusion. Bonus points if that light is a bit on the “cooler” side!

Avoid backlighting

Another way to REALLY confuse your camera is to have a large window or another light source behind you. Again… your eyes are A LOT smarter than your computer and/or camera and your eyes can adjust for varying exposures of light. When you have lots of light coming in from behind you (let’s say by way of a window or lamp!), the background tends to blow out, leaving your face in a funky, foggy haze. We’ve talked about window light already… instead of having the window behind you, consider facing it! This may mean some home feng shui… I’ve been there a few times this week, trust me! 😂

Bonus: Find the Filter

This has nothing to do with light, but I thought I would throw it in here! There is a “filter” that my roommate and I discovered a few weeks ago after doing an Instagram deep dive. I have no idea what it does, but it is supposed to make touch up your appearance??? I know I can use just about any help I can get while hopping on calls right now because I’ve pretty much forgotten where my hairbrush is at this point. To find the filter (on my Mac!), visit your Zoom app and find your Preferences. Navigate to the Video tab… check the little box next to “touch up my appearance.” This is also where you can “unmirror” your screen… a fun little feature for my fitness friends that are teaching online! There’s also a way to do this within a call, but I just find it easier to take care of outside of calls!

PS these tips and tricks ALSO apply to photographing your sweet family while you are indoors!

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