Wow! Haven’t things changes over the past few weeks …
My new life seems to be revolving around Zoom meetings and home schooling!
It turns out home schooling is an area I have a lot to learn about … but as a personal branding photographer, I know a fair bit about cameras, so here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your laptop / iPad / phone camera and look your best during your Zoom calls.
First of all, I wanted to say that this new Zoom thing is kinda cool. It has allowed me to keep in touch with other people, entrepreneurs and small business owners, and bounce ideas of each other, in this very weird situation we all find ourselves in. And it’s has also helped me to make new connections, meet new people and even pick up a couple of new clients along the way!
First impressions still matter – even via Zoom!
The basic rule here – face a window! (during daylight hours, obvs!)
Front-facing natural light is a very flattering light. Use it whenever you can; it will make your face look brighter, smoother.
One word of advice though … if the sun is actually shining through the window, this can cause the camera to over-expose and make you look way too bright. If this happens, either move further back from the window, until you are no longer in direct sunlight, or move to another window, perhaps on the opposite side of the house, where the sun isn’t shining in. You’ll get a much nicer, softer light on your face!
And whatever you do, don’t have your back to a window … unless you don’t want anyone to see your face! And don’t say “this is tempting!” …
Choose your background wisely!
Nobody wants to see your messy bedroom, your unwashed dishes in the kitchen or your pants drying on an airer behind you! Seriously … nobody!
Try to find a corner of the house that’s neutral, with very few distractions. Or, if you must use your bedroom or the kitchen (because your partner who is also working from home has already stolen the best spot in the house … not naming any names!) at least make sure the space behind you is tidy!
I had some washing out earlier so I thought I’d take a demo photo for you … it’s not a good look, is it?
You can of course experiment with the background option available on Zoom, where you can essentially place yourself in front of any background … and I must admit, I am quite impressed with how well the software does this!
I think in some situations this can work … especially if the background is your brand logo. Be mindful however of moving around, as it takes the software a little while to catch up with you, and you could end up with parts of your body going missing every now and again. Oh, and it doesn’t cope very well with long hair either!
Your camera should be at eye level … or higher!
Unless of course you like showing off your nose hairs, or the double chin you don’t actually have in real life. And we all remember my blog about double chins, right? If by any chance you missed it, you can find it here.
Yes, I get it. I’m being quite demanding here. Find a window … no, not that window … the other window! … check your background … don’t leave pants lying around, … and now I’m making you lift your laptop higher than your eye level!
But come on, this one is fairly easy. Grab a couple of books and put them underneath your laptop. Tadaa … no nose hairs, and a beautifully chiseled chin!
Ok, now let’s bring your best self to your Zoom call.
I know it’s tempting to stay in your pjs … because nobody is going to know that you’re wearing your comfy, stretchy pyjama bottoms that you bought in a Christmas sale 5 years ago, right?
Well, they probably won’t! But I promise you, you will feel so much better, and on top of your game, if you take a shower and get changed into some, at least, semi-professional clothes. Jeans and a nice T-shirt will do!
Talking about T-shirts … choose a solid colour, and preferably one that compliments your colouring and your personality! Simple patterns are ok, but busy ones don’t always look good on camera.
And then, there’s the obvious stuff. Brush your hair, or if you have long hair … style it in some way. You don’t have to spend ages doing it, just something simple and effective.
I have a habit of putting my hair up in a bun when I’m at home, but because my hair is so long, the ends tend to poke out at the top and it looks like I have some weird octopus climbing out of my head. So I always make sure I don’t turn up to a Zoom meeting with my octopus.
Make up – again, there’s no need to go all out and spend ages on this, but a bit of matt foundation and some mascara can work miracles. In fact, if you’re going to do one thing … make sure it’s the matt foundation. It will make your skin appear smooth and not shiny!
Whichever you prefer!
Just make sure you start off your meeting with a nice cuppa, so you don’t have to get up half way through to make yourself one.
Or even better … get someone else (maybe that person who stole the best seat in the house!) to make one for you!
Mine’s a latte, please!