How to Look Good on Video Chat
I didn’t post it to Facebook.
My name is Amanda, and I suffer from a syndrome I call the “Facebook Effect.” The more intertwined I become with social media or any other image-heavy platform, the more obsessed I become with my appearance.
“People will come in and say, ‘I saw myself in the mirror, but I didn’t really notice it until I saw myself on Facebook or on my iPhone or iPad,’” says New York plastic surgeon Adam Schaffner.
I’ve never considered going under the knife myself. But I do understand how so many of us get to this point. Digital technology exacerbates image issues that a lot of us already have. And if you’re plugged into the digital space like myself, you’re probably around a smartphone or webcam every day.
Plastic surgery is obviously the most extreme response to fixing the “flaws.” And I’m just not there. So, I set out see if could I cure my Facebook Effect by simply learning my angles.
Demetra Kavadeles, Global Public Relations Manager, Consumer at Skype, says there are ways to trick the camera. She points out small adjustments that can make anyone look years younger on camera. So, I tried them out for myself.
5 Tips for Looking Your Best on Screen
In the photos at the top of this story, the one on the left was taken without taking into account any of the tips below. The photo on the right is the improved version.
Along with these five tips, Kavadeles also recommends doing a video test call with a close friend or family member to check both sound and video quality.
1. Let in the Light
Ensure you have several light sources and that they are all indirect to avoid dark shadows or a shiny-face effect. Personally, I have found that putting the light source behind the computer works best.
2. Make Eye Contact
Look into the webcam and not at the screen. It’s easy to be distracted by the personal video preview (the little box that shows how the other person sees you), but this can lead to unflattering postures on camera and a lack of eye contact with the other caller.
3. Beware of Patterns
While you want to express your personal style, keep in mind that bold patterns can look “messy” on the viewer’s screen. Additionally, some pieces of jewelry can reflect light in a way that distracts the viewer. Less is more with jewelry. And if you wear a pattern, be sure you don’t sit in front of one. The best background is a dark, solid color that doesn’t clash with you. I conveniently — and unintentionally — wore a pretty bold dress today, so this was interesting to see on camera.
4. Sit up Straight
Make sure your total upper body — not just your face — is visible in the camera area. To provide you with some comfort, keep in mind the caller on the other side only sees you from the waist up.
5. Angle the Camera
This is a personal tip of my own. I have often found that looking down at the camera often makes your face seem wider. Place the camera on a surface that’s directly in line with your forehead. If you’re on a laptop with a built-in camera (like I am in this picture), don’t tilt the screen up — always place it on a higher surface and tip it down towards you.
When It’s Not About the Camera
While I was overall more satisfied with my webcam appearance when using these tips, this may just be a temporary band-aid. Body dysmorphic disorder is a serious disease with roots too deep to be cured by superficial tips for taking a better picture.
In an ideal world, we’re all working towards a society that isn’t obsessed with image. But truth is that all those Photoshop protests, feel-good commercials and, ironically, articles just like the one you’re currently reading only nourish our obsession. In the age of digital, beauty is in the eye of the Internet user.