How to set up the best lighting for webcam

June 9, 2021

From connecting with colleagues to catching up with friends, video calls have become a staple of our everyday lives — but that doesn’t mean they’re always smooth sailing! Need an easy way to make video calls a better experience? Optimize your webcam lighting. 

Setting up the best lighting for webcam calls isn’t just about looking your best. The right lighting can help illuminate facial expressions, minimize distracting shadows or glare, and improve the quality of the video picture. Explore our easy-to-execute tips for how to improve your lighting for webcam streaming. 

Man smiling at laptop with headphones around neck

Lighting for webcam fundamentals

If you’ve got it, flaunt it — natural light, that is. If you have a window in your space, use it to your advantage. Position yourself so it’s in front of you or at your side. Avoid sitting with the window behind you, as the flood of backlight will leave your face in darkness. If the light coming in is too strong, draw sheer curtains or adjust the blinds to soften the light on your face.

Direct light towards you

Now that you know what natural light you’re working with, it’s time to optimize your light fixtures. The same rules apply: position your lights in front of you, not behind or directly at your side. Make sure your light source is at eye level, as light from above or below your face could create unflattering and distracting shadows. If you need to use some overhead lighting, dim the light to keep it soft.

Use multiple light sources

Diffusing light with multiple lamps will softly illuminate your face. You can achieve this with the simple yet effective two-point lighting setup. Position two lamps on either side of your screen and direct them toward your face at 45-degree angles. Ideally, one of these lamps should be a table lamp, but the second could be a floor lamp.

Fine-tune brightness and temperature

Going too bright can wash out your face on video and make it difficult for others to focus on your facial features. Soften your lights and consider reducing the brightness of your computer screen as well, as keeping it too bright can project harsh light. When it comes to temperature, stick to cooler light that replicates natural daylight — anything too yellow will affect your skin tone on camera. 

Bright idea: Following the two-point setup? Ensure both lamps are the same temperature, but make one lamp slightly brighter than the other to create a subtle shadow and more depth.

Signe table lamp with orange glow against wall and plant

Add a soft accent of color

Just as plants and art make a video call background more visually appealing, so can a subtle accent of colored light. It can also help your friends or colleagues with subject/background separation. Place a Play light bar on a surface behind you, or use a Signe table lamp to wash the wall with light. Direct the colorful light at the wall and opt for soft tones, such as rose or peach. 

Couple seated at dining table under bright light with laptop

Smart ways to make lighting for webcam seamless

Once you’ve fine-tuned your lighting for webcam, use these smart Hue features to save on setup time. 

Save your scene

Create a scene in the Hue app with your preferred brightness and temperature for each light source. That way you can switch to webcam lighting at the touch of a button whenever you need to jump onto a video call.

Create a routine

Video call scheduled at the same time each week? Use a custom routine to turn your webcam scene on automatically when you need it — it’s one less thing to think about.

Automatically adjust to daylight

Go one step further with your routine and set up the Hue Labs Conditional schedules formula. Tell the formula when you need your webcam lighting scene, and it will only turn your lights on when there isn’t enough daylight, saving you from being drowned in excess light on your video calls.