Lights, camera, selfie

GLADYS CHUNG shows you how to look your best in front of the camera for video-sharing social media platforms

At a time when anyone can have his own YouTube, Vimeo or Vevo channel and direct his own 15-second short film on Instagram, having the skills to take a good selfie video is essential.

And who knows, you might be asked to send in a short clip of yourself before you are shortlisted for a job interview in the future.

We went through the videos of some of YouTube's brightest stars and gleaned some tips.

1. Get the lighting right

Besides being the queen of make-up tutorials, we think Vietnamese-American Internet sensation Michelle Phan is also the queen of lighting.

Judging by her videos, it seems she has soft but huge bright lights illuminating her from the front (behind the camera).

The effect? She has softer-looking features and her skin looks especially flawless and radiant, no matter how she moves her face in front of the camera.

Her face looks lit from within, even when she is without make-up.

If you cannot afford a huge lightbox and a well-lit studio to film your selfie video, just position yourself in front of a huge and bright window.

Natural sunlight - that lights you up from the front - is always flattering.

ST 20140117 GCSELFIE1 96517m

2. Position the camera in a top-down angle

This is a trick that works when you are taking a regular selfie picture and it works just as well in a selfie video.

When the camera is positioned just slightly above your head, your face looks slimmer or even V-shaped, and your eyes appear wider.

Popular American YouTube do-it-yourself expert Andrea Danielle Brooks is blessed with exotic good looks, but she looks even prettier when she pulls off her top-angle selfie clips.

Keeping your chin down and neck long when in front of the camera works just as well too.

ST 20140117 MMSELF 96568m

3. Pick your best profile

Unlike taking a selfie photo, you cannot freeze-frame your best angle in a video clip. You can, however, position the camera on the side where your profile looks best.

Take British celebrity make-up artist Lisa Eldridge (above). In her make-up tutorial videos, she almost always presents her more attractive right profile to the camera while applying make-up.

To find out which is your more photogenic profile, take a few pictures with your face angled in different directions.

ST 20140117 GCSELFIE3 96519m

4. Pick the perfect background

If you want your viewers to stay tuned to your video, engaging content can only do so much.

Make sure you are set against a background that is easy on the eyes and uncluttered.

It should be in a soft colour, be out-of-focus and should not compete with your face for the viewer's attention.

We like how American lifestyle Vlogger star Ingrid Nilsen's videos are almost always set against a softly lit, blurry and pastel-coloured background.

ST 20140117 GCSELFIE4 96520m

5. Look your best

Like many successful YouTube stars, Canadian beauty Vlogger Jen Chae seldom appears in front of the camera without looking her best from every angle.

Right from the get go, her make-up is always perfectly applied and her hair is coiffed - unless she is showing you how to create a look.


The celebrity make-up artist has painted the faces of A-list celebrities such as Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, Chinese supermodel Liu Wen and Taiwanese actress Bianca Bai for high-profile events.

He shares some of his insider tricks and must-have items when preparing his clients for the camera.

  • Pick base make-up products, such as primers, concealers and foundations, which provide subtle optical illusion pigments that blur imperfections like fine lines, pigmentation and dark shadows.
  • Stay away from too much shimmer or your face will look greasy onscreen.
  • To make your face look smaller onscreen, contour your features.

Use a little bronzer along the sides of the face, near the hairline, below the cheek bones and along the sides of the nose bridge.

  • If you want to use false lashes, make sure you pick natural-looking ones.

False lashes that are too dense will cast a heavy shadow over your eyes, making them look dull and lifeless.

  • As much as possible, keep your eye make-up clean and sharp.

If you have on too many shades and blend them too much, your eye make-up will look messy in front of a moving camera.

  • You can never make raised pimples and acne bumps disappear completely onscreen with make-up. Good lighting will have to be used to fix that.

However, long-lasting concealers that have a drier texture and matte finish can help to hide the blemishes to a certain extent.


The local TV presenter and media training consultant shares some general tips for looking and sounding good on video.

  • Essentially, your entire presentation is made up of two big components: the way you look (body language, grooming) and the way you sound (content, how you deliver it). So pay extra attention to these factors.
  • Body language that is calm and anchored inspires more confidence and trust.

For example, you want to look the camera in the lens and not shift your gaze too much.

Fidget too much and you might come across as anxious, distracted or lacking in expertise.

  • Slow down your motions. What seems normal in real life can come off as being too quick and even comical on video, so slow down your actions just a tad.

It may feel unnatural but it will come across perfectly all right on tape.

  • Make sure the light, whatever its source, falls on your face.
  • Always check the background, especially when you are filming in your own private space, like the bedroom or bathroom.

Do not get caught in a situation where you might have had a killer presentation in a perfect take, only to have an old toothbrush look like it is sticking out of your head.

  • Keep it conversational. This is key no matter how big a crowd you are addressing and it is crucial when you are doing a selfie video. No one likes listening to a lecture or a monologue.
  • Shine is a real killer for TV. So blot. And blot some more.
  • Stay away from distracting accessories, especially on the ears and neck, as these areas are more prominent in selfie videos that are usually cropped quite tightly.