The megastar appeared flawless on one side of the split screen, while her amateur interviewers looked blurry and distorted—that is, alarmingly human—on the other.
A strategically placed bulb—positioned to one side of the subject, and just above eye level—brightens one half of the face while casting a slimming pyramid of light on the opposite, shadowed side. A glow to rival that of the Dutch master's radiant —handmaiden not included. Back at home, I try doubling up on light to deliver an overexposed Terry Richardson look (sans nudity).
But the new guy in my life happens to be a world traveler, and old-school telecommunication has begun to seem almost as antiquated as mailing a letter—without the writerly romance.
Rather than risk letting my new fling lose momentum or, worse, fizzle out in a string of missed calls and lackluster text messages, I resolve to master the perfect video chat. Unlike Instagram, the myriad video apps on the market don't offer dreamy, skin-perfecting filters.
She tells me to begin with natural lighting, near a window if possible—"there's no better source than the sun"—since artificial overheads can accentuate dark circles and wrinkles."Think about movies, when a criminal is being interrogated," Phan says.
"There's just one spotlight on the suspect, and it never looks good." Lighting from below is similarly unflattering.