Set Your Stage

Local Photographer Gives Tips for Great Video Calls

The pandemic has sent employees from a variety of industries online for work calls, with everyone from teachers to architects to doctors using Zoom to connect with clients and coworkers.

The one thing we all have in common as we switch to virtual meetings is the desire to look our best on our calls, which can be a bit more difficult than it seems. We’ve all had an instance when we see our own reflection on our computers and realize the lighting isn’t right or we just don’t look quite how we want to. Luckily, local third-generation professional photographer Ali Wolfe of Ali Wolfe Photography has been helping clients look photo-ready for years.

“Things that are helpful include brighter spaces... You want bright and clean and fresh looking. Crisp spaces,” she says.

We tend to clutter up our background area on accident while trying to make it look nice, when really a freshly painted wall and a piece of non-distracting artwork will do the trick, she recommends. 

“I wouldn’t [have artwork or decorations] with words, as we are drawn to try to read something. For example, don’t have the word “Eat” behind you if you are [Zooming] from your kitchen.” Instead, she recommends natural window light, a paint color that isn’t too dark, and very basic backgrounds.

When it comes to the angle of your computer and your image, Ali says to remember how you take a selfie: “higher angles are better.”

“We’ve all heard horror stories of looking up someone’s nose," she says. “Don’t get crazy high with [computer camera] angles...it’s not a glamour shot.”

Basically, she recommends trying to simulate the angles and familiarity of a normal face to face meeting or conversation.


Tip #1 Face your light source

Whether you have a beautiful large window, or a smaller lamp in your basement, put the light source in front and above you for even and bright lighting on your face. Avoid the half-lit look that happens when your light source is to your side or the silhouette look when the light is behind you.

Tip #2 Opt for solids

Choose solid-colored outfits (like black or navy) over a busy pattern, then add polished accessories for a pop of color. These fun hues can be in the form of a statement piece of jewelry, a lip color or a tie.

Tip #3 Don’t overdo your look

Ali recalls a client who didn’t recognize herself because she’d had her hair done in a glamorous updo before family photos, and she thought it didn’t really look like her. To avoid this, do everything the way you would on an average day. “Obviously during quarantine, everyone looks more casual, so do an average day pre-pandemic!” she says.

Tip #4 Just turn off the video sometimes

Often you will be able to focus more on the important work in your meeting if you aren’t worried about how you look, Ali says. “In-person, we don’t have the ability to think about those things. The other person isn’t even looking for it, but we are being hypercritical, tweaking [how we look] throughout the meeting. Just be.”

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