Home office setup for recording video, including a ring light and a camera.
From ring lights to paper backgrounds, there are several (and many cost-friendly) options for curating a professional-looking video recording space. — Getty Images/ Manu Vega

Many business owners are under the impression that it takes lots of fancy, expensive equipment to make professional-quality videos. In reality, you can create beautiful video content in a small space with the right lighting and your cell phone. Whether you’re seeking to shoot visually engaging marketing content or just want to make your home office look better on Zoom, here are some tools to make any space camera-ready.


The first thing to consider is the lighting for your video. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a space that has plenty of natural light. Direct sunlight is the best possible lighting option, as it’s both flattering and free. “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,” wrote Vimeo.

If your space doesn’t have sufficient natural sunlight, there are other affordable options. Consider a ring light, softbox, or LED panels, or set up two lamps, one on each side of you, and ideally angle the lamps 45 degrees to either side of your face just above your eye line. Test to make sure you aren’t creating distracting shadows and make sure that there’s no backlighting that could turn your subject into a dark silhouette.

Get the right gear

If you’re shooting in an office environment, overhead lighting can really mess with your video. You can remedy poor lighting using a bounce, or a reflective surface, that pushes light back onto the subject to illuminate shadows. A piece of white posterboard is a cheap and effective bounce, or there are professional-grade photographic reflectors that look like big shiny metallic circles you can use.

If you plan to shoot regularly, investing in a three-point lighting kit might be worthwhile. This kit includes a key light—the primary and brightest light source; a fill light that fills in the shadows; and a backlight, which shines on a subject from behind. You can play around with positioning these three lights to create an atmosphere that works for your videos.

If you’re shooting in an office environment, overhead lighting can really mess with your video. You can remedy poor lighting using a bounce, or a reflective surface, that pushes light back onto the subject to illuminate shadows.

Choose a complementary background

The type of video you’re shooting will impact the ideal background for your set. For a talking-head video or for a background for your live Zoom calls, consider using a plain wall, bookshelf, or drop screen to avoid distracting your audience. If you’re working in a busy space, like an open-plan office, try using a roll of paper, like a 107" roll from Savage Universal. This can create the impression of a film set without needing to pay for studio space.

Alternately, if you’re creating content for social media or want something to look more informal, you may choose an “in the wild” approach — like your retail space or office, for example.

“Using your actual office as a background communicates authenticity. Seeing people in their natural environment feels genuine and adds a sense of time and place to the scene. A natural backdrop feels spontaneous, rather than like an artificial setup,” wrote Wistia.

[Read more: 4 Best Practices for Creating Engaging Social Media Videos]

Some editing tools also include stock backgrounds that you can use, including motion backgrounds, elements, and cityscapes. Biteable is one tool that offers built-in backgrounds, while communication tools like Google Hangouts also let you load your own screen for video calls. You could shoot something against a green screen and change the background post-production.

Compose your shot

Follow the rule of thirds to make sure your shots are framed properly. The rule of thirds means dividing the frame into three parts horizontally and vertically and placing the subject in one of the intersections.

“The rule of thirds softens the image and creates a spectacular composition, making the frames visually more attractive,” wrote one video guide. “If you place an image outside the center of the shot, you increase the level of the audience’s perception.”

Make sure you test and adjust your lighting to align with your desired composition before recording. And, if using natural light, be aware of timing; the sunlight will change the longer your film schedule takes.

[Read more: Easy-to-Use Video Editing Software for Small Businesses]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Brought to you by
Dedicated to turning our advantage into yours.
Unmatched 5G network : Get work done where your business happens with the speed, bandwidth, and reliability your business needs.
Learn More

Get recognized. Get rewarded. Get $25K.

Is your small business one of the best in America? Apply for our premier awards program for small businesses, the CO—100, today to get recognized and rewarded. One hundred businesses will be honored and one business will be awarded $25,000.