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A Hollywood Trick To Make You Look Better On Video

video skills


This is so obvious


yet most of us haven’t paused to think about it…


All of our lives we are told


It’s rude to stare.


One of the reasons TV | small screen | internet video is addictive


is that we can stare at people without seeking permission.


As a documentary cameraman for decades 


I was a professional starer.


For hours - sometimes days - on end I would stare at a face through my viewfinder.


Stare long enough and you see things you miss at quick glance.


A shift of the eyes, a wince, a hint of a  grimace; they all tell a story counter to the words being spoken.


I stared at a woman for a long time and I saw something wasn’t right.


A TV foreign correspondent. 


She was and still is top of her game in reporting world events. 


I won’t say her name but know this…


as professional and polished as she was in front of the camera, she was always presenting a 9/10 instead of 10/10. 


I knew why. 


She knew I knew.


But we never spoke about it.


It was a facial blemish she was self-conscious about. 


So I’d use the thumbprint filter for her. 


It’s an old Hollywood trick from the glamour days. 


You wipe your thumb on your forehead to pick up a light film of skin oil then press your thumb on the lens. 


As you look through the viewfinder you feather the edges of the smudge with a cloth. It was a poor man’s soft-focus beauty effect.


BUT … here’s the thing. 


I tricked her good!


When I feathered it down with the cloth, bit by bit, I was really wiping the lens clean. 


At the same time, I reassured her she was looking great. 


There was no soft-focus filter but her internal confidence lifted and she looked great on camera.


This sounds corny


but it’s true


and I stand by it…


the best way to light yourself is from the inside.


Once you get the out-of-date stories out of your head that are holding you back


- that you aren’t good enough, that you have to look a certain way -


you too will shine on camera.










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