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Guest Blog: Pictorial Photography

How to stop cringing through your FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype team calls.

This week's blog is from Sarah Jamieson from Pictorial Photography talking all things virtual meetings!

Published: 30 April 2020

Whether you are working from home and chatting with your colleagues, doing professional client meetings or just meeting up in Houseparty with friends I have a few simple and easy tips to help you look and feel your best on screen for little or no cost.

You might be wondering what with all that is going on in the world right now, is looking your best on camera really so important?  Well, yeah, I think it is and especially so for work - if you look and feel your best - you will feel confident and perform at your best.  

Just a few small tweaks can give you that confidence and you will no longer be distracted by that little cringe thumbnail in the corner with your face on.

Light:  The MOST IMPORTANT thing is light, natural light is always best so try to schedule your calls during the day, have the window in front of you (behind the camera) and switch off room lights as they can create a colour cast. 

Evening Calls: if there is no natural light available, you can use small LED lights or buy a cheap desktop ‘ring light’ from Amazon for around £20.  

Tip:If you are woking from a desktop PC, a free alternative is to turn up the screen brightness to full and make your desktop background white (shrink the video call window and place it in the middle of your screen), this will act like a big white light right in front of you!

Make up / Filters:  There are filters on video apps but they can make you look fake or blurry (or like a potato!), it’s more professional and honest to just look naturally well lit and like yourself.  If you don’t want to look tired, make up is recommended - you can wear more make up on camera than you usually would for a meeting as it doesn’t show up as much as in real life, blusher or bronzer are good as they give a warm and healthy look.  

I’m no expert on make up so spoke to Jenny Ross, professional make-up artist, she said: 

"A touch of concealer under the eyes and on the lid will waken up the eye if it’s been a long day, then just some mascara to open up the eyes. Lip balms are great for just adding a soft sheen to the lips without it looking like you’ve gone overboard with makeup but still need some hydration on your lips. Warm up the face with a bronzer on the cheeks and forehead. Powder any shiny bits if you are using lighting in the evening, a tiny bit of pressed or loose powder will do for the nose, cheeks and forehead”

— Jenny Ross Makeup Artistry

Wardrobe:  Wear what you would normally wear to meet your client, colleagues, employer or friends.  Unfussy collars, block colours and large print work well, small patterns or check can make the camera go fuzzy so it’s best to avoid these.  *As the warmer weather starts, be sure to avoid strapless tops - you run the risk of looking naked on camera!

Camera Position: If you are using a laptop, pop it on a stand or use some books as you will find the angle unflattering, I’m sure you don’t want clients looking up your nose! Desktop PC’s usually have a good camera position.  If you are using a mobile phone, try and prop it up at slightly above eye level height, a small mobile tripod or clamp can help as hand holding causes camera movement which can be distracting to the viewer and will get tiresome for your arm very quickly. 

Orientation: Phone users tend to use portrait orientation (upright) and PC/Laptop users tent to use landscape orientation, look at what the others on your call screen are using and if you are on a phone when everyone is on desktop - think about turning the phone to the side to fit in with the rest, most people will be new to this so don’t worry about changing it up, practice makes perfect.

Distance: Think about how far away you would usually sit from a client or friend - too close to the camera feels overfamiliar and uncomfortable and too far away is distracting and can affect your audio.

Background: Your background will depend on where in the room you are positioned for the best light.  Declutter your background as much as possible, less is more.  Make sure nothing is moving behind you (like a fan) and close doors to deter pets and children from entering and running around behind you.

One last thought.. Make sure you are not too far away from your internet router, after all this setting up the last thing you would want is for the call to drop out.

Thats it, 9 top tips for non-cringe video calls.  Please let me know in the comments below which of these tips have helped you the most.

Enjoy your chats!

Sarah :)

  Check out Sarahs website here:

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