How to look good on video calls

Most of us are being asked to take part in a succession of video calls, and we should try to look our best, not for vanity reasons but as a courtesy to those we’re conversing with. In just about every group chat I’ve taken part in, at least one person is just a black silhouette in front of a glaring window with sunlight streaming in. It’s often quite distracting. Here’s professional photographer Ian Olsson on how to look your best. Ian suggests having a play beforehand to set up the shot, perhaps with a smartphone.

It’s polite and reassuring to other participants to look at the camera, and it took me a while to realise that a desktop computer with a big screen is therefore the worst device to use in video chats, because the image of the other people (which we’re inclined to address) can be a considerable distance from the camera. If you’re on a call which will not involve screen sharing, a smartphone propped up in the right place can give more pleasing results. Also (and don’t underestimate this), the camera on your smartphone or tablet is probably quite a step up from the one in your laptop or desktop, and much more likely to handle the non-studio conditions better.