Let there be light!

Light means everything for a high quality business video. The lens on your camera - whether it’s your smartphone camera or a professional-grade camera - is just like the lens of your eye. When it’s bright, you see better; when it’s dark, your eye struggles. Your camera lens will pick up on greater detail and give you a better image if you shoot in an area with great light.

Now, having professional lights (like I do in my video studio) is enormously helpful for shooting great business videos. But, if you don’t have the budget or space for professional lights, there are still some ways you can improve your light quality right now - without spending a single penny.

1.  Shoot your video between noon and 5 p.m. in front of a window that faces south or southwest. This position and these five hours will give you the best daylight possible for a nice, flattering light. You want to aim for soft-diffused light...nothing that’s shining bright sunlight directly into your face. That will leave sharp shadows and damn-near blind you! (Plus, it will throw your light balance off and make everything look over-exposed.) In the winter months, you might adjust your time to noon to 3p.m. as the sun sits lower in the sky.

2.  Find a bright wall to shoot against. Dark colors absorb more light...so if you’re shooting your video against, say, a deep blue wall, the lens of the camera will struggle a bit to try to evenly light everything in the shot - you and the wall. If you have professional lights, you don’t need to worry about this...but if you don’t, try to find a wall that is lighter in color.

3.  On that same note about colors, wear brights or soft-colors on camera. In general, the right color will brighten and flatter your skin tone - which makes the image look better. I avoid black or bright white on-camera, aiming usually for jewel-colored clothing that flatters my medium-brown skin tone.

4. When all else fails, manipulate your light a little bit by DIY-ing a reflector box. Simply take a shoe box lid and cover the top in aluminum foil. Place the foil-covered lid on a table under your chin (out of view of the camera, obviously) and watch how the light reflecting up instantly brightens your face. The result: you look marvelous and you’ve saved yourself anywhere from $20 - $200 for a professional reflector.

Have fun trying these ideas for your next DIY business video shoot.