10 Amazing Tips To Look Good On Camera

Every video producer thinks about how their subjects will look great on camera.  However, not everyone hacks it. Looking good on camera is an art. Some have mastered it. For some, it takes some courage and effort. This article is about the second group of persons. As a video producer, you will come across them quite often. You bet I’m talking about those people that simply defy every ‘on-camera’ rule. 

What are the top ten tips on looking good on camera? Looking great on camera works both ways. Everyone needs to play their part just right. For either the video producer or the subject, these ideas should make you, or your subject looks amazing on any camera.

  1. Preparation is key
  2. Practice up. It makes you perfect
  3. Dress up in solid colors
  4. Go subtle on the make-up
  5. Natural smiles, please…
  6. Look into the Camera.
  7. Get the lighting right
  8. Solid  or dark backgrounds work best
  9. Camera placement is key
  10. Use Consistent Video Formatting

While each of the ten tips will help you get the camera appearance right, it is crucial to remember the little things that matter. For instance, you might follow all the rules, only to for you to stumble and forget what you were supposed to present on camera.

Let’s break everything down, shall we?

Ten Tips To Look Amazing on Camera

1. Preparation is crucial

There’s a tone of different ways to prepare yourself for your appearance on camera. You won’t know the value of this preparation until you mess up during the crunch moments.

Here are a few things to tick off the list when preparing yourself for the camera moments

  • In case you are the person behind the camera, have a chat with your subject before the shoot. Take them through the paces. Their knowledge of the scene, and how the whirr of the cameras or the glare of the lights might affect them is crucial for a good performance. 
  • Drink enough water. Hydrating consistently is one great pro-tip for consistent on-camera models. Not only does it help your skin appear great on camera, but it also helps you relax
  • Collect all the pieces you need for your shoot. You don’t want to rush during the last few minutes before the cameras go on. Choose your clothes early. Get your makeup kit ready. For the ladies, set up your hair. While doing all this, you should remember to choose the right pieces. Knowing what looks good, and natural on you is key to pulling this off.
  • Relax. Better yet, get enough sleep. Everyone says that 8 hours of sleep is adequate. It definitely is, especially if you don’t want to go on camera with sleeping bags haunting you.
  • Read through the script, if your camera appearance is scripted. A glance through will tell you what you need to during preparation

Generally, the preparation stage is all about getting you both physically, and mentally ready to look good on camera. You can’t afford to skip this stage if you want to pull this off successfully.

2. Practicing will help you 

Why does your favorite movie star always appear so natural in front of the camera?

Better yet, how does your favorite TV host avoid stumbling through their paces when they present before millions of people?

The answer is simple. They have spent decades, if not years practicing on the same art. They have perfected the art of appearing on cameras until it has become their second nature. In your own little ways, you should take a tip from them.

Though you might not have the benefit of all that time, a simple rehearsal will help you. The following tips will help you get things right when practicing.

  • Use a mirror if you can. Thinking about the person on the other side of the mirror helps you visualize how you will actually appear on camera.
  • Write down what you need to say when on camera. Moreover, you can polish the same during the practice session. This will help you stay focused. Besides, you also don’t want to rumble about everything under the sky.
  • Should you be a solo video producer, do a few bloopers on the same shoot before you actually get serious. In case you have access to a professional videographer, let them check you out as you practice.
  • For long shoots, having a complete dress rehearsal is important. It will help you simply nail everything when you get to the moments.
  • Rehearse on posturing too. Natural postures are important for good videos and pictures.

3. Choose the right clothes

I have seen my fair share of fashion disasters on camera.  Some people go overboard with dressing. On the other hand, some simply choose to under-dress when on camera. To be honest, none of this helps your appearance on camera.

Pro-tip; When choosing your camera clothes, go for the ones with block, or solid colors.  When it comes to on-camera appearances, nothing beats a single solid color. Besides building great contrast with your background, solid colors will also minimize your choice of clothes to a small number.

Since your camera appearance is also all about perception, you should also think of the following when picking your clothes

  • Every piece of cloth sends a message. Dressing up in rugged jeans might cut it if you are all about fun and entertainment. However, the same won’t cut it if you are shooting an official video. Come to think of it, a suit and tie look will convey a different message when compared to your favorite short and tees look.
  • Avoid clothes with large logos, creases or patterned clothes. Though getting a fashion statement may be part of your plan, these clothes easily distract your audience.
  • Avoid noisy jewelry. Instead, use jewelry that doesn’t necessarily cause a stir. You don’t want to distract the audience from you to the subtle sounds of clinking jewelry.  After all, the strength of your audio is equally a part of your appearance.

The key to dressing well for a video is to choose the clothes that you’re naturally comfortable in.  If anything, choose the pieces which you are used to. Don’t forget to put on fitting clothes too, unless you want to look like a clown.

4. Makeup; the more subtle the better

There’s no denying that good make-up is part and parcel of the journey to an amazing camera appearance. In fact, you can’t skip putting on some makeup. That’s the reason why we have on-studio make-up artists on all the  TV studios.

However, the line between getting your make-up right and overdoing is often ridiculously done.

For guys, make-up includes subtle foundations with minimal make-up application to prevent shining skin. Moreover, you can always groom the eyebrows and re-touch the hair to make them appear dapper. It’s easy, straight and to the point.

 On the other hand, makeup application for ladies is a whole different thing! You need primers, the correct foundation, mascara, powder and all that. 

To cut the chase, I’m not really much of a make-up artist. That’s why you should probably follow this tutorial which is aimed at makeup for film and video.

5. The art of smiling

Have you tried smiling through a whole video shoot?

You bet it can be quite hard!

Once again, you can take a cue from any of your favorite on-camera personalities. More often than not, you will notice that they keep smiling through the video. Alternatively, they smile radiantly when starting the video, and when wrapping it up.

To pull off an amazing appearance once on camera, you should try to smile as often as you can. However, keeping the smile as natural as possible is also crucial to this. This delicate balance might be hard to achieve when starting out. It shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. With more practice, you will get it.

The perfect art of smiling is all about the following things

  • Relax as much as you can. Stretch your muscles, then relax your shoulders to ease off tension before the camera goes on.  You can’t smile when your body is tensed up. As a plus, let your face also have a break.  Don’t force in. Try to think of the environment you’re in the most neutral terms. Don’t mind the lights and everything else.
  • Try keeping on the smile for short periods, then smile again. Most video producers want you to ‘over-smile’ consistently. You can do this easily by shooting short, brief bursts of your radiant smile instead of trying to hold on one smile for long.

Besides making you look relaxed on camera, smiling will also help you to create a rapport with your audience. This rapport is key to the message you want to pass.

6. Eyes on Camera, Please!

Over time, I have come to understand why the eyes are crucial to every video. Here’s the short of it. Your eyes have the ability to hold the audience. That’s one of the reasons why you are told to ‘accentuate the eyes’ when doing make up for your film or video.

Always focus on the camera. You don’t want to appear distracted, or shy.

While looking into the camera is not much of a technical thing, maintaining the same on camera eye-contact is. If you can’t hold on to the lens, you might end up glancing up, which will essentially remove you from the camera moments.

Some studios have multiple cameras. This means that your eyes will be assigned to a specific camera at a time. It might feel like sinking in quick-sand for many. However, relaxing, and looking into the eye of the camera, as you would usually look at someone’s eyes when putting across a serious point will help you out.

Don’t forget to relax your eyes too. Blink as often as you can. You don’t want to hold people in a glaring stare for the whole of the video.

7. Lighting

This is part of the technical aspects of video production.

In case you want to know everything about lighting, you should read this post here on cheap lighting for your Youtube videos or this one which guides you on the basics of lighting for video production.

Most people prefer using natural light. I have nothing against it. If at all, natural lighting is the best lighting for any video shoot. In case you are using the normal outdoor light, make sure than the light strikes your face correctly. Moreover, you should also use the shadows as perfect casting grounds to build contrast between your subject and the background.

On the other hand, “In-door” lighting is a better option for professional videos. Most video producers argue that their videos appear better when shot in controlled lighting environments. 

With both artificial and natural lighting, the trick revolves around making sure that you get it correct. Do not overlight the stage. The light should also be focused on the subject, rather than on the camera. Avoid glare as much as you can. For the professional videographers, using the triangle lighting style explained here works best. You should try it too.

8. Backgrounds

I bet you have seen it all.

The drab, uninspiring webcam video shot against a heavily graffitied wall.

The fast-moving action video shot against a faster-moving and highly distracting background.

Or it’s that simple Instagram video, with flickering lights in the background.

I’ve seen all of them too. And I agree. None of the people in the video look good on them.

Backgrounds build contrast. Since we have set up the correct shooting environment and picked the right clothes, it is important to keep the background along the same line, or close to the line.

Backgrounds should always be a conscious, well thought out decision. Don’t react to the heat of the moment decisions, which will mess up your on-camera appearance.

For instance, shooting with a building behind you might be a good idea for some videos. However, the color of the building might be distracting to most people.

Pro-tip: Use solid or darker backgrounds in order to get more contrast. 

Using a solid background, which contrasts with your choice of clothes focuses your audience on you, rather than on the happenings in the background. This also means that you should pick backdrops that won’t drag the attention of your audience away from you.

9.Camera Placement

Often, the best place to put a camera is in your hands, where you can change the placement as much as you want, depending on what you want to achieve.

There are different ways to place cameras. Often, it depends on the type of video you are shooting.

However, there’s one basic rule to placing your camera with the intention of looking good on camera; place it on the same eye level with the subject of the video. You don’t want them constantly “looking up” to the camera when you want then to be looking “into” the lens of the camera.

Pro Tip; For good camera placements, have the subject sit down before the shoot, and adjust your camera tripod to the level of their eyes.

Placing your camera on the eye-level will also help you adjust your lens depending on the focus and clarity you require on the subject’s face.

10. Use Consistent Video Formatting

Keeping the video uniform is a great idea if you want to look good on camera.

Often, change-overs on the format of the video are highly distractive. For more emphasis, think about a constantly flickering screen, or the LED displays at the airport. If the flickering keeps on and on, you easily get distracted, don’t you? That’s exactly what happens with videos too.

Consistent video formatting is all about keeping the elements on different videos as close as possible. From the actual color of your background or backdrops to the lighting, you should try to ensure that different video cuts have the same formatting elements. Apart from ensuring that your audience doesn’t get distracted from the primary element in the video, it also makes your post-editing easier.

Winding Thoughts

Here’s how to look good on camera. It’s all about bringing together different pieces to work well together. If this is not achieved, kiss your appearance on camera good-bye. However, I should say that it gets easier as you do it more often. This means that you should appear before a camera as often as possible, with as many bloopers as you can get until you get it right. Yes, the more often you do it, the lesser the number of mistakes you are likely to do.

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