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How to Look Great on Video

by Gillian Armour

As independent fashion, image or style consultants, we do quite a bit of networking online either with clients or with other groups (and sometimes even in e-Learning). One of the dangers of working from home is that you can become a bit too casual. Coming to work in your sweatpants every day might seem great, but there are times you will need to ditch that casual look and project a more professional appearance. The video conference is one such time, and new technology makes meeting with clients and viewing projects easier than ever.

Software products like GoToMeeting and AdobeConnect allow people to meet in person no matter where they are physically located. That is great news for home based consultants, freeing them from the traditional office and putting them on even footing with their larger competitors. If not handled properly, however, a video conference can be a disaster for someone who works from home. If your office does not project a professional appearance, others on the call may question your commitment to the project, or even your professionalism. Taking the time to clean up your surroundings, and yourself, will go a long way.

Check the Background

Cleaning up the background is one of the most important parts of preparing for any video conference. Others on the call will be spending a lot of time looking behind you, and what they see can make a big difference. Tidying up the area behind you is even more important if you do not have a traditional office in your home. If you work out of a bedroom or spare room, you might need to set up some draperies or temporary partitions to make the space look more like an office. Keep personal items out of sight, since they can detract from the professional appearance you are trying to create.

Place the Camera Properly

The placement of the camera is an important consideration, since it will affect the camera angle and what others on the video conference see. It is generally best to place your webcam on top of your computer monitor, since that position gives the best field of vision. Take the time to test the view from your webcam and make adjustments if necessary. You want the camera to show you from the waist up for the most professional appearance. Experiment with several different seating positions until you find the one that shows you in the best light.

Wear the Same Thing You Would at the Office

Since you are only visible from the waist up, you might think that the dress blouse and blazer with sweat pants is the perfect outfit, but it is best to dress as you would if you were meeting face to face. Dressing professionally will make you feel better, and that can help you project a stronger and more professional appearance. You should maintain a collection of quality business suits, even if you work at home. You can skip the high heels, but the rest of your outfit should be ready for the office.

Check the Sound

The video portion of the video conference is important, but the sound is just as critical. Be sure to test the sound of your own setup well in advance of the meeting and upgrade your microphone if necessary. If you do not already have one, a quality headset is a great investment. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, a headset will make those conversations more comfortable and make video conferences more comfortable and effective at the same time.

Whether you hold a video conference from your home office once a week or once a year, it is important to prepare for each one as you would a job interview. You want to put your best foot forward and project a professional appearance to your colleagues on the other end of the line. The professional appearance you project will go a long way, and it could even help you grow your business.

Watch for our certification and training course "Fashion Blogger Certification" to be released April 25th, 2014

How to Take a Selfie Portrait

By Gillian Armour, Certified Image Professional Selfie One of my clients, a very beautiful social creature, sent me a panicky text the other day. “Help!” She texted. “They (un-named entity) are interviewing me and I need a headshot. How do I take a good ‘selfie’?” Now, I have been in this business for a long time and get requests from left field all the time but this was a new one. It got me thinking; I really should have a tutorial about taking the perfect ‘selfie’. And that’s what today’s post is about.

SELFIE (which by the way just made it into the Oxford dictionary)

Defined as “a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand held digital camera or camera phone.” Wikipedia

We have all seen them, we have all taken one (usually multiple times to get just the right one). However most of us are not professional photographers and therefore our selfies just don’t show us at our best. Selfies are an important part of how we interact online these days. Dating sites, networking sites, professional headshots etc. all require us to put our best face forward. As an image consultant I am always chanting the mantra “your first impression should be the best impression.” Since it is my job to make sure clients look their best, here is my advice and a ten step list for getting the best selfie possible.

Note – these instructions are for taking a professional shot (not a ‘goofy, gee-I-love-myself-don’t-I-Iook-hot’ photo! Selfies should not take the place of a really professional headshot but are for the instant, gotta’ have a photo now situation like my clients above.

The following tips apply to portraits taken while standing in front of a mirror with a digital camera, or cellphone pointing forward (with an iPhone you can look into the phone and use the built in reverse-lens capability to take the snap.

1) Wear your best colors – if you know them. If you don’t know then choose a universal color that flatters and looks good on camera – coral, aqua, copper. Do your makeup (for guys, get groomed) and adjust your hair to its most flattering. 2) Head shot only – not full body. A selfie is a headshot that shows you at your best. 3) Make eye contact with the center of the camera lens. Smile with your eyes while thinking about something really fabulous (yes, mood does translate through the eyes and to the viewer). Don’t be shy or embarrassed about “modeling” for the camera; just don’t over-do the posing. The personality of a selfie should be fun, natural, authentic and a little quirky or irreverent. Too posy and you risk looking like you took a photo of yourself. 4) Extend your arm out (closer for a close up but not too close) and hold the camera 8 to 12 inches above the top of your head. 5) Lighting – find a natural light, not too bright, not fluorescent, but a natural light and turn your face toward it. 6) While looking in the mirror (or reverse camera angle on iPhones) find your best “side” – your face does have a better side so practice taking a photo with your face angled to the left and then one angled to the right and see which looks better. 7) Now you are ready to find your angles. Drop your shoulders and sit (or stand) up straight. This will make your neck long. While making eye contact with the center of the lens, drop your chin down toward your chest slightly. Hold your shoulders back and look up at the camera extended in front of you. At the same time press your tongue into the top of your mouth (this engages the neck muscles and helps take away any chin action you might have going on). 8) Smile big, or, if you are shy about your smile or want a more conservative shot, keep the smile slight but, either way, THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS and smile through your eyes. And, keep your lips relaxed. Don’t do a pout; you are not posing for a high school year book! 9) Take multiples and then choose the best one. Save it! 10) Most camera phones have edit features and you can also upload to your desktop and edit.

This may seem like a lot of work for one great photo but once you do a selfie correctly you will have no problem doing many the right way. Practice these ten steps until you have perfected the art of the selfie!

Technical tips:  

  1. Do not photograph with the sun or light behind you.
  2. If you are taking a selfie at night, or in a dark place, turn on your flash. There is always a risk of getting “red eye” when using flash so opt for a natural light selfie when possible.

A more complete video tutorial of these instructions is coming soon.

Check out all our courses at Resources:

Also take a peak at Wikicommons for over 100 examples of good, bad and indifferent selfies.

©Gillian Armour, AICI CIP

#sososf Seen on the Streets of San Francisco

Prada FaceLift Today we start a daily feature called #sososf (Seen on the Streets of San Francisco). Since our town is always hopping and the fashion scene is always exciting we want to share with you, the viewer, what we, the bloggers of these posts see on a daily basis. Today we noticed that Prada is getting a face lift to its façade. Be sure to follow the Twitter feed #sososf and send interesting San Francisco related items by adding the hashtag to your tweets!