Whether it’s a client call, new business presentation or staff meeting, when you communicate via a webcam it’s important to put your best face forward. Proper lighting can help you make a great impression – and you don’t have to be an expert camera operator to do it right.
We’ve gathered four tips from Skype users and other industry pros on the proper use of light to help you shine on your next Skype call.
1. Multiple lights
“Good lighting really does pay off, particularly if you are invited to a job interview or you’re demonstrating,” says Skype user and former BBC film-maker Howard Ellison. “You need at least four lights to look glam.” He suggests adjusting one light so that it’s not quite entirely on your face and raising it so that it highlights your facial features in a flattering way. Adjust a second, weaker light on the opposing side to fill shadows. The third, he says, should be positioned above your head to highlight your hair and the fourth one should light the background space. Ellison also suggests placing a white sheet of paper on the surface in front of you to reflect light, because “the last thing you want is that ghoulish blue fish face we get from screen glow.”
Piggybacking off of Ellison, Skype user Gregory Bell suggests using one light that is a variable intensity LED light panel with rechargeable batteries. Bell finds that mounting this light on an old camera tripod works well. “This gives great flexibility for positioning the light just next to my Logitech C920 camera mounted on top of my laptop screen,” he says, noting that he also uses an adjustable desk lamp with a 7W LED globe.
3. Make the most of a window
Former television producer Susan Murphy of workshifting.com suggests capitalizing on natural light if your workspace allows. If you’re lucky enough to work in a space with a big window, she says, turn your computer so you are facing the window. If it’s bright outside, Murphy suggests diffusing some of the light by using sheers on the window and adjusting them so that you’re neither squinting from the light nor shadowy looking.
4. Check your preview
Tech Journalist Dan Sung of pocket-lint.com interviewed filmmaker James Cronin on this topic, who suggested that people take advantage of the ability to preview how you look prior to your call. You can do this on a PC by clicking Call > Video > Video Settings to pull up a preview of your webcam. On a Mac, click on Skype on the menu bar, then Preferences > Audio/Visual. “Make your preview as big as possible and take a look at how the lighting comes across,” Cronin says. “If you’re using a laptop or portable device, then move in a circle around the room and you’ll be able to find the best angle with what you’ve got.”
What strategies do you use to ensure you’re well-lit during Skype calls? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.