Isolation is really starting to set in and we are now at home in front of our computers more than ever. Whether we’re using Zoom to do our conference calls, Houseparty to play our virtual game nights, or sharing our push-up challenge on Insta Story, our houses are on display constantly! As someone familiar with that #WFH (work from home) life even pre-quarantine, I have some tips on how to make your webcam backdrop, aka your living room (or bedroom or...dare we say, bathroom??), and yourself look camera ready! Remote working life, activate!
Tip 1: Maybe you’re born with it. Maybe it’s frontal sunlight.
No one just naturally looks good on a webcam—I’m looking at you Kardashians. It’s all about LIGHTING! Natural lighting is the best and frontal light will give you the prettiest glow so if you can put your computer or phone on a table against the window—or even next to—that’s ideal. If that’s not necessarily an option for you, there are a lot of small clip-on lights that work on both your computer or phone for less than $20 that can replicate that head-on light.
Tip 2: Get on their [eye] level.
The second biggest trick with looking good is avoiding that unflattering up-angle (ugh). I always put my laptop on a stack of books so it’s not looking up or down at me. You want the camera just above eye level to avoid baggy eyes or a saggy chin. And while it might sound trivial, remember the name of the game is professional for most of us M-F, and putting your best foot—face?—forward will instill confidence in your boss or a client that you have it together right now (even if you don’t, and it’s okay if you don’t).
Tip 3: Get a move on—as in, move your furniture.
Okay, so now that you’re looking good, it’s time to get your apartment into shape! I like to give my room some depth so instead of just choosing a corner that you like, pull out a bit more to give the whole area a little more breathing room. Our home “office” is a big part of our lives now, so don’t be shy about moving things around in your floorplan to accommodate. It (hopefully) won’t be permanent but can seriously improve how you approach your job on a day-to-day basis.
Have a bookcase next to your sofa that you can shift to a guest room? Set up a desk and chair there, instead. Don’t use your dining room table for much dining these days? Make it your work-from-home command center for you and your partner/roommate. Being out in the open feels far less suffocating. That might mean you have to clean a little bit more but it will make for a more dynamic backdrop.
Bonus: tidying up before getting to work can actually make you more productive, so make that bed or clean off that sofa and coffee table!
Tip 4: Pay attention to the details.
I can’t tell you how many times in the past week I’ve seen people on national TV on their webcams contributing to the news and eek in horror at what’s behind them. If you’re setting up in your bedroom, clean off your nightstand so there aren’t bottles or Kleenex boxes there, for instance. If you’re in your living room, fluff your pillows and add some fresh flowers like you’re expecting company. Because let’s face it, this is the new normal for “having guests” so let’s treat it like that!
Tip 5: It was the best of backdrops, it was the worst of backdrops…
My last tip might seem obvious but choose your home’s best feature to be your backdrop. If you were going to choose a photo to be the cover of the real estate listing for your place, what would you take a picture of? If that’s a wall with cool wallpaper, or an architectural feature that is unique, use that as your backdrop! Remember this: your video conference call backdrop doesn’t necessarily have to be where you work all day, either. If you’re on a desktop, you’re a bit more limited, of course, but if you’re living that laptop life, don’t think twice about finding a spot for screen-to-screen chats if your actual work set up is less than ideal.
Happy Facetiming fellow quarantiners! I want to see your backdrops for your new and improved home office so send in your photos and tag us at #myApt2B – extra brownie points if you have something from Apt2B. We will get through this together and make our homes more beautiful in the process!