With so many of us working remotely, video conferencing has become a part of our daily routine.
Whether it’s daily meetings, brainstorming sessions, conferences with clients, or just regular Zoom calls – we want to make sure we look the part when we have them. Part of it is setting up the best video conference lighting.
Since not many of us can invest in professional camera and lighting gear and equipment, we have to get savvy and pull out a few tricks from up our sleeves.
So, here are a few tips and tricks to help you look professional and step up your video conference lighting game.
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Set Up Your Shot For Free
We know times are tough, so we’ll kick things off with some completely free tips and tricks. None of these will cost you a cent, but after you implement them – you will look like a million bucks.
1. Raise The Camera
The first thing you should do is raise your webcam at your eye level or slightly above it.
While this isn’t exactly a “lighting tip”, having the camera face you at the right angle will eliminate some of those harsh shadows around the eyes you may have noticed the last time you were on a video call.
Just use a stack of books or a laptop stand to set up your shot right, and you should be good.
2. Avoid Harsh Backlight
You are the star of this call – not the background.
The worst thing you can do is sit in on a conference call with your back facing the window. Even if you were to use a professional camera, a harsh backlight would grab the focus of a lens, having you look like a Cheshire cat once you crack a smile.
The same thing applies to night shots with a standing lamp or other harsh light sources in the background. Just move the lamp out of the shot or place it in the corner.
3. Sit Facing The Window
For daytime shots, the best and most obvious thing to do is to sit facing the window.
Natural light is the best lighting for video conference, so if you have the opportunity to make the most of it – do it.
If you have a large window that you can set up your video conferencing gear in front of – do it. Just don’t sit directly in front of the window because you don’t want your shot to look overexposed.
4. Diffuse The Natural Light
Even though natural light is the video conference light to live by – you still don’t want it to be too harsh. So, what do you do? It’s not like you can dim the Sun.
Well, you kind of can.
The first and most obvious move would be to play around with curtains. Pull them closer together and limit the amount of sunlight that’s hitting your face. Play around with them until you get it right.
If you don’t have curtains, the next best thing is to use sheets. Grab a regular sheet and hang it over the window. It’ll do just fine.
5. Sit At A 45° Angle From The Light Source
Another thing you can do for free to improve the lighting is to sit at a 45-degree angle from the light source.
Facing the light source at a 45° angle will add depth and texture to your face, creating soft shadows on one side and fully illuminating the other. This mild contrast will also accentuate some of your main features and will even do wonders for your skin.
Set Up Your Shot On A Budget
Now, if you’re a bit more serious about improving the lighting conditions and you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, companies like COLBOR offer video conferencing lighting solutions that are affordable, easy to mount, and can even fit into your pockets.
On that note, let’s see what you do with a little bit of help.
1. Switch Out The Light Bulbs
Artificial lights can be both beneficial and detrimental to your video conference lighting conditions – especially if you’re mixing them with natural light.
What we mean is, regular bulbs are quite a bit warmer than the natural light (3200K against 5500k), and so if you mix these two together, you’re going to end up with orange skin tone and overly intense highlights. And, while that may give you some tan, we’d suggest you switch out the regular bulbs for LEDs for a more even, natural look.
Essentially, for a video conference, LED light is the way to go if you’re trying to achieve a professional look.
2. Set Up A Key Light
If you can’t be bothered by replacing the light bulbs, the next best thing you can do is set up a key light.
Whether you’d like to use a video conference ring light or just keep a table lamp at the edge of your desk is up to you. The only thing we’d advise is you stick with LEDs, and you keep the light at a 45°angle for the best, most natural results.
3. Get A Video Conference Lighting Kit
If you’d really like to “ball out”, as the kids say, you may just go out and get an entire video conferencing lighting kit.
This would usually include spending a bit more than the pocket change, as you’d have to get your hands on softboxes, several light sources, boom arms, and so on.
Usually, we don’t really recommend you do this unless you’re a videographer, photographer, or you really need your conferencing shot to look flawless. However, in the end, it is entirely up to you if you want to spend money on studio lighting or not.
4. Add Backlight For Night Shots
One final piece of advice we have for you is to add a backlight source for your night shots.
In the complete absence of natural light, we might have to play around with artificial light sources to create some depth and even out the skin tones.
For instance, if your face looks overexposed from the light coming off of a computer, a video conference light in the background might help even that out.
Also, a nice, soft backlight will help with harsh shadows and also add depth to the overall shot.
So, was this useful? We think so.
As you can see, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get your lighting right – you just have to know a few tricks.
Try some of these out, and let us know which ones worked best for you. We’re eager to hear and see the results.