A Zoom of one's own

notes • June 16, 2022

On video calls, I receive a lot of compliments about my plant wall. Before the pandemic, people asked if my background is real live plants, and now they ask if it’s virtual.

It’s not virtual, it’s IKEA. It’s not live, it’s plastic.

It took several iterations over four years to create my office background.

1. Paint it black

In the summer of 2017, my husband and I built our offices in the basement. I painted the cement wall under the stairs black and loved the contrast. I knew it would be my background.

Once I turned on my video camera, I found that the camera had difficultly focusing on me against the flat black background.

A cement wall painted black. A desk with chair rotated with the back towards the black cement wall.

2. A new angle

I rotated my desk, but now I swung my contrast in the opposite direction. The white wall background washed me out.

3. Pegboards

In 2018, I hung up pegboards. While they added texture, they also added distraction on video. I did like the addition of faux plants.

4. Pegboards and plants

In 2019, I split the pegboards and filled the middle with plant tiles. On video calls, you could still see about a ¼ of pegboard on each side.

5. Dress for the job you want

In 2021, I still felt the pegboards were distracting and so I moved them over my project table. With my camera turned on, I used painters tape to outline my wall viewport and filled it in with plant tiles.

The plant wall provides the right amount texture, interest, and color balance on video calls, all while being low maintenance.

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