Some people have a natural ability to look good on video. It’s not necessarily about being physically attractive either. Yes, those fortunate to have been born with good genetics do have some advantages, but physical beauty does not necessarily translate to looking good on video.
Some people just “pop” onscreen. They seem to genuinely enjoy being in front of the video camera and know how to put their “best self” forward. This talent comes naturally to some, but for most of us, it is a learned skill.
Rita Hayworth Gave Good Face
Most celebrities who are filmed for a living have learned which facial angles and expressions work best for them, and they take care to present this angle to the camera most of the time. From my experience as a professional actor, model, and sports features/fitness cover model, here are some of my insider tips to help you discover your most flattering facial angles.
We Do have a Good-side
No one has a perfectly symmetrical face, but we all have a “best side”. Film directors and cinematographers know this and they study their leading actors to figure out the most flattering angles to film them on.
Most celebrities don’t have perfect symmetry, but industry professionals know how to “work around it” and film them on an angle where the less flattering side is minimized and asymmetry is a little more balanced.
I admire actors who resist pressure from studios to undergo cosmetic surgery and insist on keeping their own unique look. However, these people are fortunate. They have a team of people around them coaching them on how to control their visual image i.e. look good onscreen, in the flesh, on the red carpet, and in media.
The following exercise is about building your on-camera confidence and figuring out what works best for you.
How to Find Your Most Flattering Side
- Hold your filming device at arm’s length and take a large number of still photos of your face from different angles; front on, right profile, left profile and all the angles in-between
- Also, film yourself turning your face slowly from side to side as you keep eye contact with the lens. Combine this with slowly lifting your chin up and down, and tilting your head on various angles
- Use extreme angles and tilts
- Notice how your nostrils dominate the shot if you tilt your head back too far, or how you get a double chin if you tilt your head towards your chest
- Play around with extremes so that you have a reference point of “what not to do”. You may get a good laugh in too!
- Now playback all your images frame by frame
- Screenshot the frames that you are drawn to. Include the ones you don’t like also. This will be an (intuitive) indicator of your best and not so flattering angle/s.
- Narrow your choices down, and select which angle is most flattering for you as a reference point and what to avoid doing on-screen.
Once you have chosen your best angles, start photographing and filming yourself from this angle wherever possible eg. whether you’re being interviewed, or are speaking direct-to-camera. You can (subtly) position your head, face, and body position to present your most flattering side onscreen.
Troubleshooting aka “Work Around” Tips
Nose: If you have a generous nose try the following:
- Face the camera square on and avoid excessive head tilts or 35-degree head turns
- Keep your chin level or slightly lower
- If your chin is elevated you’ll look as though you’re peering down your nose at your viewer (as pictured below). It’s not the kind of attitude you want to imbue in your frame. In my industry, it’s also referred to as the “Miss Piggy” or giving the snout. Not the most endearing or flattering angle to use onscreen.
- Avoid full profile (side on) body positions. Instead, ensure that both eyes can see the video camera lens
- Avoid the “selfie” distance – eg 12 inches between you and your filming device to prevent nasal and facial distortion. Opt for a distance of 3 to 5 feet (portrait distance) instead
- Also note that some filming devices and their lens capabilities, as well as various apps and filters, can distort and make your facial features disproportionate
Double Chin: Keep your chin level and extend the back of the neck upwards. Gently push your chin slightly forward. This will reduce the appearance of a double chin. Position yourself so that the camera is at eye level or slightly above. As a bonus, this also helps reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes
Face/age/skin texture: Always face your light source. Good lighting will make you look better- on screen, no matter your age.
- Good lighting fills in facial shadows, brings light to your eyes, and can make hair look lush and shiny
- Always wear make-up onscreen. Not to simply feel more put together, but to meet the technical demands of the lens. This rule also applies to men. See: Let’s Make Up! How to Look Good in Your Video Presentations and Look Good on Video. Make Up Techniques for Men and Women
- Yes, you can also layer on the filters, but not so much that it impacts your mental health. I’ve experienced clients who have turned down media opportunities because they don’t want to be filmed or photographed with others. Nor do they want to meet their audience in the flesh, as a result of presenting an overly filtered digital self to their video audience
- (Mental health check: A red flag here would be that you’re using filters to alter your facial bone structure and body shape every time you are on-camera).
Practice, Pose, Poise
Now it’s up to you to practice working on your best angle in front of the mirror or on video wherever possible. You may feel silly at first. That’s normal. It means that there is a little self-consciousness coming to the surface – so process it.
Doing mirror work gets you comfortable with how your viewers will perceive you. And the more you practice showing your best angle to the camera, the more natural it will be for you, not only onscreen but also at social events, media, and family photos etc.
Some of my clients tell me that they hate (their words) the way they appear on video. In my one-on-one coaching sessions, I help them to view themselves more objectively and teach them how they can film themselves in the most favorable way so that they feel more empowered with their visual image.
This results in a more authentic approach with their on-camera confidence, which ultimately benefits how they deliver their message and how they are perceived by their target audience.
No matter what, learn to appreciate the way you look. Inner confidence is an attractive quality that will enhance your on-screen presence and life in general.
See these posts to help you with your on-camera confidence
How the camera sees things differently, and what you need to know
If you have a question or topic that you want me to cover please let me know.
You can also book a time with me to troubleshoot your video creation or a production challenge. Or see below for details.
Established in 2006 Bianca Te Rito, founder of STEBIAN.com provides an exclusive, consulting service helping business thought leaders, speakers, award-winning authors & VIPs productize their thought leadership and present themselves, their products, services, or brand message to their target audience in the most effective way possible on video. Get the tailored expertise from a real-world operator with over 20 years of TV/Film industry experience working in front of and behind the camera. Learn more about our custom offers here.