8 Ways to Look Picture-Perfect for Your Next Video Chat
In the last month or so, constant video chats have become the new normal for us.
Whether you've been spending more time on Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty or any other video chat service, you've probably become self-conscious at least once about how you actually look on that little screen.
Want to avoid looking (and feeling) awkward on your next group video? We have a few pointers for you.
Have the Right Lighting
As you probably know from your selfie-taking experiences, lighting is everything when it comes to looking good on camera, whether you're capturing a photo or video. For the best results, you want to brighten your face, but without washing yourself out. Soft natural light from a window is often your best bet, so you'll want to face the window during your chat.
If the light is coming back the side or above you, it might cause shadows that appear to disrupt the symmetry of your face; and if the light is directly behind you, you may appear as a massive shadowy figure onscreen. However, too much harsh light from the front can also completely hide the features of your face.
If you don't have access to nice natural light, lamps and other sources can work well, too. Just put them slightly above and behind where you'll be facing to get the best effect and give yourself that natural glow.
Know Your Angles
The right angle can be critical when it comes to looking like your best self on camera, so put that version of you on display. Having your laptop or phone camera staring up at you from waist level is never going to be the best look, needlessly giving you extra chins. Instead, you'll want to have your lens at about eye level. Looking slightly upward at the camera will also put you in a good posture to look your best and most relaxed, making you appear as charming as possible, to the rest of the chat.
While you're there, it's best to center yourself in the camera, with an appropriate background behind you. For example, if it's a school call, you'll probably care more about keeping your space tidy and free of weird distractions, while that might not matter so much if you're simply chatting with friends.
Be at a Proper Distance From the Camera
We don't know who needs to hear this, but you do not want to be up close and personal with your camera if you're trying to look cute. Most laptop cameras have a wide-angle lens that will make you look strange and distorted if you're too close, and even on a phone camera, you don't want to force people to be right up in your grill. Getting a little distance from the screen will also help your lighting and angles work their magic—but do be close enough to adjust the controls if necessary.
Doll Yourself Up
This may go without saying, but a little makeup never hurts if you're going to be on video. After all, we never look quite the same on camera as we do in the mirror, and the right accentuations can help us not to look so washed out onscreen. Just a touch of mascara, blush and lipstick or gloss can work wonders to help your look really pop in a video chat, and it doesn't hurt if your hair is totally on point, too. If you haven't showered, remember you don't have to go all out. All that matters is what can be seen on camera, so using some dry shampoo and getting the front of your hair in order can be just as good as a full blowout.
Know Your Internet Connection
Whenever possible, do your video chats from the place in your home with the best, fastest internet. That might not sound like it's tied much to your onscreen appearance, but when internet speeds slow down, you might get caught in a slow-motion blur of contorted pixels, with your voice lowered to a booming pitch as the connection tries to catch up. That's not super flattering for anyone.
On a related note, also try wearing headphones during any video chats. Doing so will help prevent echoes and uncomfortable pauses, and while it won't necessarily make you look better, it will prevent awkwardness and talking over each other. After all, confidence is everything when you're trying to put on your best face.
Do a Test Run
Before your video chat, run some tests so you're not making adjustments during the call itself. If you're chatting via your phone, open your camera app and turn on the forward-facing selfie camera, setting yourself up in the ideal lighting conditions to see how they work for you. On the computer, you can do the same kind of preview in an app like Photo Booth. You may want to see how you look and tweak your angle and positioning to get the best results, or clean up behind you if you realize there's junk lying around in the background of your perfectly lit scene.
Look Into the Camera
Just like making eye contact is polite in real life, looking into the camera gives off the best impression during a video call. You may be tempted to repeatedly stare at yourself to ensure you're looking good after all of that work, or to look directly at whoever is talking on the screen, but the positioning of the camera will give off the impression that your eyes are elsewhere. When you look at the camera, it makes it appear that you're looking directly at everyone watching. If you also sit up straight, you'll give off the impression that you're engaged and attentive, and that always comes off in a positive light.
Video chatting a lot with that special someone? Click HERE for our favorite virtual date ideas to try during social distancing.