Video lighting tips and tricks for your next at-home shoot

by Mark Cersosimo | đź“– 3-minute read
Source: Vimeo Blog

We’re all shooting more video, but not all of it looks very good. Whether you want to look great for your next Zoom call, YouTube video, or even a Vimeo Record video message, we’ve got some video lighting tips and tricks (plus some helpful gear shoutouts!) to improve the lighting of your next video.

Lighting tips and tricks for shooting video at home

Accomplishing good video lighting doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. Here’s how to light your next video like a pro, regardless of cash flow.

1. Use natural light

When it comes to video lighting, the easiest option is to use the most powerful and cost-effective light source in the world. The sun! When getting ready to shoot anything on camera, let that sun shine directly on that face. This will provide a beautiful, even light that helps hide blemishes and brings out the colors in your eyes.

If the sunlight looks a little harsh on your face, you can use a very sheer white curtain or even a translucent white shower curtain to help soften that light. (It’ll also help keep nosey neighbors out of your business.)

2. DIY a three-point light for low-light rooms

If you want to mimic a more traditional video lighting setup, you can also just keep the window to one side of your face, a set up known as key lighting. The other half of your face needs some light as well, so you’ll need what’s called fill lighting. You can just pop a lamp with a daylight-colored bulb right on the other side of your face to even that out.
If you’re still seeing those unsightly shadows, you should use a bounce to direct light back onto your face. While you can cop a small bounce for just around $10, you can also use a piece of white card stock (Or a pizza box! Even aluminum foil!) to bounce the light from the window back onto your face.
Pro-tip: use silver reflective surfaces — like that foil— to accomplish strong fill light, and use white surfaces for a softer, more natural fill.

3. Try a pair of lamps for night-time shooting

…But what if it’s dark? The solution is actually fairly simple. All you need is two lamps, one on your left and one on your right. If you can, arrange them 45 degrees to either side of your face and raise them to just above your eye line. These two lamps should help minimize the amount of shadows on your face, and should do a good job in evenly lighting you for your next webcam address.
If you make a habit of recording video on your phone, investing in a small ring light attachment makes a huge difference when it comes to looking nice on camera. (And everyone wants that, right?) Here’s a quick rundown of how to set one up:


  • Set your camera just in front of the light. Generally, ring lights include a mount that let you place your camera just in front of (or in line with) your lighting set-up. But if not, find a ledge or small tripod to stabilize your phone close to the light source.
  • Adjust the light (and camera) so they’re in line with your face. Most ring lights you purchase come with an adjustable stand, which is great. Just make sure you’re the focal point!
  • Place the light just two feet away from your face. This is more of a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule. The video should look brightest and clearest from this distance, but you might want to play with it a bit to get the effect you’re looking for.

4. Be careful with your backlight

If you’re gearing up for your next Zoom call, remember that most webcams are equipped with autoexposure, which means that if you’ve got a bright lamp, TV, computer screen, or a window in the background of your video, your camera will focus in on that. That’ll leave you in the shadows, which isn’t ideal unless you’re in the witness protection program.
Take the time to get that light in front of you, instead of behind you! (If you need to do a little furniture arranging to make this happen, we promise, it’s worth it.)

5. Try not to mix your video lighting

When DIYing your video lighting setup, you might have the urge to combine all the light sources laying around your house. Fight that instinct. Using competing color temperatures (think: warm light from a lamp combined with cool sunlight) can make shots look different as your camera tries to adjust to the new white balances. Daylight color bulbs (5,000-6,000K) are available at most stores but when in doubt, stick with natural lighting.


We love a classic three-point lighting setup, but don’t let any equipment limitation keep you from capturing more video. Even if you’ve only got your webcam or phone camera, you can use these tips to keep your videos looking crispy. Happy filming!

By Kristy Strough
Kristy Strough User Interface (UI) Designer