While we continue to shift our lives to an almost completely digital format, you may be noticing that your laptop camera gives a slightly different perspective. And while COVID-19 restrictions may be lifting a bit, that doesn’t mean the Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls will stop any time soon.
There’s not just one simple trick that will make you look like you’re on a Hollywood red carpet but with our few easy steps and tactics, you can’t help but look like an on-camera professional. Laura Grier, photographer, and founder of a media business and Andeana Hats, tells us how to adjust our lighting, change our setup, and arrange our background – all so we can look terrific on Zoom.
Set the stage
If your surroundings are great, you can’t help but look great.
Lighting: Have as much of it as possible. Angle light from behind your camera towards your face or from the side to brighten your surroundings. Dim and/or overhead lighting can darken you, making it harder to see! Natural light is best - facing a large window. You don’t need a ring light or selfie light, but it doesn’t hurt. There are also small light clips that you can add to your laptop for a more portable option.
Sound: Sometimes your laptop’s microphone won’t cut it. Purchasing a new microphone, you can be sure everyone will hear you clearly. You can also put a blanket on the floor, or on top of a glass topped desk, to muffle any other ambient sounds or loud roommates.
Camera angles: Make sure your camera is at eye level, or slightly higher. You might have to stack books under your desktop or laptop, as well as lift your seat, to make sure the camera is straight ahead. And if you can avoid an angle right up your nose, even better.
Background: Sometimes those generic scenic backgrounds don’t work. You can create your own background by adding a black or white poster board, hanging fabric in a neutral gray from a stand, white or cream color or make a background that serves as a conversation starter! If you’re just using your home as the background, make sure to close your windows to reduce glare, light, and possibly any nosy neighbors peeking in. Last but not least: Make sure your area is cleaned – at least what you can see in the shot. No one else needs to know about your literal dirty laundry.
Clean up nicely
Now that you have your area cleaned and neatly organized, it’s time to do the same for you! Make sure to wear a collared ensemble that has solid colors, without stripes, or without being largely white. Avoid crazy patterns or anything that might look “buzzy” on your computer screen. And no spaghetti straps or sleeveless tops where you might look naked on screen.
That doesn’t mean you have to dress like a banker (unless that’s what you were going for). If your casual style is a bit artsier, wear an outfit that shows your creativity and your professional side. Not to mention, eye-catching jewelry or a hat is also a great conversation starter.
Style your hair they way you would for an in-person meeting. Keep translucent face powder next to your desk to give you a more polished look and powder your face to reduce shine. Just cleaning up your appearance gives you confidence and that shows in your smile while presenting.
Prepare for your debut
It may seem stressful thinking about people watching you on camera but don’t stress! A few simple tips to stay focused on what you’re saying and not what you’re doing (or would rather be doing):
Practice your transitions. Decide how you’ll smoothly transition between slides while showing a presentation.
Minimize your distractions. Head to the bathroom before the meeting starts. Have water next to you ready to sip. Eat before you present. Silence your phone. If you’re on a laptop, have your computer charged or connected to the wall charger. Make sure that nothing comes between you and whoever is on the other end of your online meeting.
Clean your camera lens before the meeting. No one likes to see fuzzy participants.
Try to be as comfortable as possible – whether it be your clothes, seating position, etc. Hide your self-view to reduce the awkwardness of being onscreen.
Make sure you have enough time. Buffer for a few minutes to start early to make sure you’re ready for the online arrivals and a couple of extra minutes in case you need them.
Mistakes happen. No need to stress over them. Just laugh them off and move on to the next.
As much as we’d all love to think that we’re pros at the Zoom meeting look, adding in a few of these tips won’t hurt. Especially, the face powder – that’s a lifesaver.
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Laura Grier is the Indiana Jones of adventure, travel, and destination wedding photography. A self-proclaimed jet setter at heart, Laura graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in Photojournalism and Art Photography and in 2003 founded Beautiful Day Photography, based in Los Angeles and specializing in destination weddings and events. Laura’s photos have been featured in over 25 publications worldwide and she’s presently a Tastemaker/blogger/lead photographer for Novica in association with National Geographic. Laura also is a contributing travel writer for Huffington Post Travel, Galavante, The Honeymoonist, and Love Detailed Blog. Recently, Laura spoke at Canon Headquarters, WPPI, Catersource, Wedding MBA, Pictage, Event Solutions, and teaches a photojournalism program with the Step Up Women's Network in Los Angeles.
Published on 3/31/2021