Between being a leader in your space and working from home, you’re probably spending a lot more time communicating virtually. You might be wondering how to get camera ready for video, so I’m going to share what I’ve learned so far since many of us have shifted to using Zoom, giving webinars, and making YouTube videos to share with our customers. 

From technical difficulties to bad lighting, so many little things can become big problems. In this article, I’ll explain my best tips for getting camera ready. From makeup tips to hosting video calls, I’ll cover all the bases so you can show up on camera with confidence.  

Create a Quiet Space & Set up Some Home Lighting
First, prepare your space. I have a quiet spare room in my office suite dedicated to video calls and recordings where I leave my equipment set up. It makes life so much easier to get everything where you need it and to leave it there. 

If you’re using your office or a room in your home, a little background noise can be forgiven – after all, many of us are juggling work and kids, a barking dog (I’m looking at you, Max), or an Amazon delivery. Just try to minimize the background motion and noise, noise-canceling Airpods are helpful. Adding music to a recording can cover up some background noise and using a tripod will ensure shaky hands don’t distract from your message. 

Once you know where you plan to be on camera, invest in good lighting. I learned how important lighting is from in-studio appearances at our local news networks. I’d get done with an interview and think, “who is that woman?!” After getting compliments I realized, it’s the lighting. I wish I could go everywhere with that lighting! Any photographer will tell you that it’s the light that makes all the difference. 

You can purchase lights at a range of price points. I invested in this light for recording YouTube videos, and it was worth every penny. If you’re new to videography and want something budget-friendly, I’d recommend starting with a ring light. I invested in one of these for my office and my home office for video calls, no more hideous overhead fluorescent lighting for me! These lights are available on Amazon, they do a great job evenly lighting your face, and calls and recordings a professional feel. You can also adjust how bright or dim and how white or “warm” the light is to complement your face and room.

Test Your Camera Equipment & Bring Extras
One time, I filmed 45 minutes of video only to find out that the mic was cutting in and out. Yeah – I cried. Testing early and often is the best way to prevent any recording mishaps. 

If you’re out and about, make sure to bring extras of everything – cords, batteries, bulbs, memory cards, all of it. You never know when something is going to stop working. If something goes missing or fails to work, having a backup can be the difference between getting it done and packing everything up and trying again tomorrow. Or, completely blowing your deadlines if your schedule is like mine ☹

Remember to also bring the makeup you’re wearing so that you can reapply after a few takes. Speaking of which – let’s talk about some essential makeup tips. 

Camera Ready Makeup Tips
Because of bright lighting – cameras often wash you out and make you shiny, especially if you’re oily like me. To balance this, I’d recommend full-coverage makeup. If you’re new to wearing a full face of makeup, try visiting your local makeup counter and asking for help – I’m a fan of Mac and Clinique foundation. You can also try Estee Lauder’s virtual service that lets you upload a photo and ‘try on’ foundation, lipstick, and other makeup products.

Overall, I’d recommend using a slightly heavier application than normal, especially focusing on your skin. Make sure to moisturize, use a primer, and then add your choice of foundation, concealer, and powder. To bring some color back into your skin, go a little heavier on blush and lipstick. A few eye-drops and mascara can help brighten up your eyes as well. 

If you’re not feeling confident – just like the previous tip, test everything! Before your big day, do a test run of your makeup and lighting and take some selfies. See if you like how you look and make any changes. I got good at applying makeup through watching tutorials and practice, practice, practice.

Finally – here’s a little secret for your next Zoom call. Zoom has a setting called ‘touch up my appearance,’ which makes your device use a softer focus. It works like a filter that smooths everything out. In a pinch – this can be a quick way to look great at the click of a button. Bye-bye wrinkles!

Choosing a Camera Ready Outfit 

I’m a goth girl at heart, and if I could wear black and listen to The Cure on a rainy day for the rest of the day, I’d be thrilled. But once I saw the difference the right colors made, I was convinced. Wearing bold colors (without small, repetitive patterns) makes you look fresh and fashionable (patterns can look busy and annoying on camera, especially if you don’t have a high-quality camera). Common colors that work for most skin tones include gem tones, teal, purple, or coral pink. Look through photos to see which colors look best on you.

Try to avoid wearing too much black or white, since sometimes it can cause the camera to struggle with exposure or make you look washed out. If you do, go for bold jewelry colorful lipstick. If you’re not filming at home, bring an extra shirt or blouse in case you accidentally spill something on the way to filming. I learned that tip the hard way… Finally, finish your outfit with a touch of jewelry, but avoid anything that jingles – the camera hears everything! 

Funny enough – my favorite video call accessory isn’t a piece of jewelry, it’s my Airpods. Again, for the noise canceling. But also because once I made the investment, I couldn’t stand having to spend 10 more minutes of my life untangling two different sets of earbuds for my phone and my new Macbook (which requires a different type of earbuds). My Airpods are a breeze to use, they automatically connect to both devices, and they keep my appearance looking sleek and polished – no more half-tangled cords dangling from my ears. 

When you become an entrepreneur, no one tells you how often you’ll need to be on camera, especially during a pandemic. Whether it’s network appearances, brand photography, or video calls, it’s important to feel confident on camera and to put your best face forward. 

One last note – I’m so grateful to my good friend and professional photographer, Joanie Simon, who has helped me to get camera ready. If you’re ready to invest in looking great and feeling confident when you show up online, check out her full gear list with options for every budget.