Video is light and sound. You’re going to hear me say that a lot. Lighting your video calls correctly can make a huge difference to your impact when presenting online. So it’s worth investing a few minutes upfront to create an optimal lighting set-up. Here are three easy tips for lighting your video calls like a pro.
Should I Buy a Ring Light?
One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that you need expensive studio equipment to look good on video calls. While it’s true that fancy lights and microphones are an essential part of my toolkit as a professional media producer, most of us can create a great online presentation set-up without spending a penny. In fact there’s a lot you can do with good old natural daylight and regular lamps.
It’s helpful to keep in mind a few basic lighting principles to make the most of your remote workspace. Good lighting comes down to three main elements: angles, evenness and color temperature. Here are three tips to help you put these elements into practice and showcase your best face online.
Tip 1: Angle Your Light From Above
The ideal location for your online presentation set-up is a quiet space with plenty of light. You don’t need a fancy ring light when you’ve got natural daylight available to you. You can position yourself in front of a window and take advantage of that natural light. This is the best way to create a soft diffuse light that doesn’t cast shadows. Just be sure to avoid direct sunlight.
If you don’t have access to natural daylight and are using an electric source, the light should be positioned above you, at a 45-degree angle (similar to what we saw with how to position your webcam). This downward angle creates gentler lighting on your face.
For a flatter lighting effect, position yourself directly towards the light source, whether it’s a window or lamp. Otherwise if you want to create some natural shadows, turn your body slightly to the left or right of the light source at a 45-degree angle. (Be careful: If you choose the second option, keep in mind Tip 2!)
Tip 2: Even Lighting is Key
A little bit of shadow gives you a more natural look online. However, too much shadow can make you appear older and more tired. Soft, diffuse light is the most flattering option.
In order to find the best set-up for you, position yourself in front of your light source with the light shining slightly downwards (see Tip 1), and then try out a few angles, from left to right, to see whether you prefer the flatter effect or some light shadow.
The most important thing is to have plenty of indirect light on your face. Your lighting sweet spot should highlight your facial features without casting too much shadow, or the need to wear sunglasses!
Tip 3: Use LED Daylight Balanced or White Light
If your quietest location is dark, you can add an electric light source between you and the window. When using indoor lamps, either as your main or supplementary light source, be sure to use white lightbulbs. Lamps with LED daylight balanced or white lightbulbs most closely resemble indirect natural daylight.
Those warmer, regular indoor lightbulbs make a beautiful ambient lighting effect—perfect for a relaxing night in, but not necessarily your update to the Board or a webinar to prospective customers. This is because regular lightbulbs cast a yellow glow. This glow is warm and cozy for your surroundings, but it’s not the most flattering color temperature for your face on video.
Remember: you always want to be lit in the front with a cooler daylight balanced color temperature. Having said that, if you are working in a large dark space, you can use a couple of those regular lamps behind you to create depth and warmth in the background.
No matter what source you have available, let the shine on you. A well-lit face is your best face.
Check out this Simply Comms video with media producer Jennifer MacLeod, to learn more.
Do you want to know more about how to look good on video calls? You can have a browse through our full Simply Comms video series for more tips. We’d love to hear from you! Let us know your comments and be sure to send in other communication questions to address in future posts.