A step-by-step guide for you to look your best over internet video conferencing services.

What Is Virtual Photography?

As the world has adapted to interacting over video conferencing services, photography has also adapted to meet these changes. Virtual photography is a form photography where a subject is captured utilizing services, or software which can transmit, and display live images across the internet.

Step 1: Find a Suitable Location 

   Find a comfortable space with access to outlets, a strong connection to the router, ample lighting options, and an appealing background with little clutter (or enough space for your green screen). 

Find a space that allows you to comfortably sit up straight, and/or present yourself as you hope to look in your photos. 

If you are using props or need to access special materials, make sure you have access to them out of the frame. You don’t want to leave the frame to get these objects, so prepare them beforehand.

WHY: You want to ensure that you will not need to relocate during your virtual experience. Taking the time to set up beforehand will ensure your best results, and lets you focus on the conversation instead of your setup.

Step 2: Clean Up Your Background

   To have a quality shot, you might have to remove some of those tchotchkes that have been proudly collecting dust for years. It’s important that your background is tidy, and not visually distracting in the frame. Also, make sure there are no mirrors behind you, or objects that could make for a strange shot. 

WHY: Cleaning up your background will allow the viewer to focus on you and not whatever else is happening behind you. It will also present a more professional appearance.

Step 3: Set Up Your Camera

   Your camera should be 2 to 4 inches above your eye-line when you are sitting up straight. You might have to get creative with the placement of your webcam or phone. Don’t be afraid to jerry-rig some cardboard boxes or use a mounting system to get this done.

   Choose whether you want to set up your shot in landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) orientation. Portrait Orientation is used more widely for professional headshots, whereas landscape is typically used for more artistic shots.

WHY: We want to create a slightly downward angle on your face and upper body. This angle usually reflects light well, and naturally opens your eyes more.

Step 4: Cue Lighting

   Your lighting should be slightly positioned above your camera. If you are using a computer or phone, make sure that your monitor’s screen brightness is turned down low, which will eliminate unwanted light. An easy way to achieve your idea lighting is to position a floor lamp behind your camera, or use a ring-light. The key to lighting yourself is that you want to strike the right balance--bright enough to see your details, but without washing you out.n

In addition to the light you are using for yourself, you should also use what is known as a fill light. A fill light illuminates everything in the frame around the subject, which will be your background. Your fill light could be a ceiling light, natural window light, or specific lights placed out of frame aimed around the subject.

WHY: To put it simply, if we can’t see you, we can’t see you. You’re not under a spotlight, so you need enough ambient light to make you clearly visible. 

Gradation also exposure from over-exposed to under-exposed. | Model: Shayna Parker

Step 5: Positioning in Your Space

Once your space is set up, you can finally take a seat and position yourself in your frame. Firstly, make sure you are not sitting too close to the camera. Cameras typically used in video conferencing services tend to have a wide angle, and if you sit too close, your body may become distorted by the lens. While keeping a tall sitting posture, make sure there is a little space between your head and the top of the frame.

Take your camera orientation into consideration when you position yourself in your frame. Whether you use portrait or landscape, make sure the frame is not cropping you out. Ensure your elbows, shoulders, and head are in the frame. 

WHY: Whether you’re aiming for a professional or casual shot, you need to be visible within the parameters of the interface. 

Depiction of the use of the Photographic Principle, Rule of Thirds | Model: Gerson Montes

Step 6: Taking the Shot

   Alright, the time has come. You’ve set up the perfect environment to take a virtual photo. The last thing to do is get someone to hit that screenshot button for you! Now, you might be wondering why you wouldn’t do it yourself. That’s because your job is to pose for the image. Whether you are reclining casually on the couch or sitting in front of your green screened Eiffel Tower, you don’t want to break your pose to take the shot you’ve been preparing for. That’s when a photographer or a friend can come in handy to screen capture that moment for you. 


And like that, you’ve learned how to set up your environment for Virtual Photography!

Nice Job!