Why Home Office Lighting Matters: Tips and Tricks for Your Next Video Call

When you work from home, video calling might quickly become your best friend. Modern technology allows us to talk face-to-face with people from all over the world. If your job requires you to have discussions with your colleagues or meetings with your clients, a good video call is crucial. And home office lighting is a key when it comes to presenting yourself well.

Here are some easy tricks to ensure your home office lighting puts your best face forward. 

Consider where you’ll sit and what you’ll wear

Dark colored tops are preferable. | Submitted by Emily Sellers & Wheeler Juell

Before you start working on the lighting, make sure that your computer’s camera is directly at eye level. Keeping everything consistent is important for the best calls. Before we dive into lighting, take a moment to consider what you’ll be wearing during the call. Light bounces off of lighter colored clothing, so it’s better to wear a darker top. 

Once you’ve determined where you’ll be sitting in relation to the camera, you can start testing out home office lighting.

Ditch the overhead home office lighting

You might think that flipping on the overhead light in your home office will do the trick. But it’s not a good lighting choice for video calls or video conferences.

Overhead home office lighting creates a down-lighting effect. Light coming from straight above will cast shadows on your face. Turn off any overhead lighting before your call. 

Set up your primary light source

A swing arm lamp like this can be used to spotlight your face from behind the screen. | Submitted by Wendy Pochop

The best place to put home office lighting for video calls is directly in front of you, behind the computer screen. A light shining directly on your face offers the best look for video calls. The light should be coming from the same direction as the camera is pointing and be as close to the camera as possible.

The best kind of light fixtures you can use for video calls are free standing and easy to move.

Whichever lighting option you choose, position the light on the opposite side of your computer screen and aim it at your face. 

Place the second light

For the absolute best video call lighting, it’s smart to have another light source. The ideal place to put it is directly behind your body, out of sight. This second light creates definition around your face. Make sure that this is not your primary source of light, however, or your face will be in shadow. 

Remember, backlighting is not your friend

If there’s too much light behind you, your face may end up in the shadows. | Submitted by Jenn Amenta

Although it is good to have a second light behind you as described above, don’t have a lamp or office lighting fixture in the background of your shot. If the only light you are using is behind you, it won’t illuminate your face leaving you in a weird shadow.

A source of light next to your head does not make the best shot for the viewer either. Turn off or remove any lights behind you that are visible. 

Soften the lighting

Home office lighting can sometimes be harsh and bright. Consider putting a piece of tracing paper over the light during your video call to make the glow softer. You can also experiment with different colored gel sheets

Move your desk in relation to your home office windows

If you’ve got natural light, make sure you face the windows. | Submitted by Damien Housseau

If you’re lucky enough to have a window or two in your workspace, you’ll have some lighting decisions to make. First, make sure the window isn’t behind you. Position the camera so the window is in front of your face. Then, experiment with whether the shot looks better with the sun coming in, or without. Since sunlight and office light are different colors, it usually works best to cover the window with blinds or curtains. 

Share your remote work tips with us by filling out this 10-minute survey to get featured in our Rolling Remote series!