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You at Work

Zoom Backgrounds: Looking Good in a Tiny Square!

By Bull Garlington

Zoom backgrounds are either your favorite thing about online meetings or your glitchy internet nightmare. Since many have discovered Zoom’s cool trick of adding a virtual background, we’ve all been in meetings with colleagues dialing in from aquariums, the ranch in “Tiger King” or the Vatican.

zoom backgrounds

But here’s the thing — not all meetings are low-key and pantsless. Sometimes you have to look professional, even on Zoom. For example, here are three different libraries you could use.

The Best Zoom Background for a Lawyer or Law Student Is a Law Library

There’s nothing like a wall of intimidating titles behind you to lend a sense of authenticity and make your tiny square pop. But trying to find a good law books backdrop for a Zoom call can be tough. They’re typically too small, or fuzzy, or loaded with copyright issues.

But don’t worry, we have you covered with a small collection of super crisp, high-definition wide-angle shots of law libraries that are royalty-free and look amazing. The following were carefully sourced from our secret Zoom background mines and are curated here for immediate download from their source. And while these look amazing when you’re Zooming from your laptop, they look great as Zoom backgrounds on your phone, too. Click on any image to download it immediately. (Note: Royalty-free doesn’t mean attribution-free. Always give credit where it is due.)

University of Michigan Law Library

The University of Michigan Law Library is an architectural wonder of gothic design that bears a soupçon of Hogwartian flavor. You can’t beat it as a Zoom background for a lawyer. The above photo found on WikiMedia is a striking view that will definitely set you apart from the other people in a Zoom call — unless they are young wizards.

library at Trinity College

This picture from Giammarco at Unsplash is classy and classic, which makes you think of the library at Trinity College in Dublin because this is a picture from Trinity College in Dublin.

Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale

The Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale may not be all law books but it is a hell of a Zoom background and makes you look like your office is in the future. It also makes you look suspiciously like a cold, calculating sci-fi villain so think about which case you’re working on and how your Zoom background may affect your evil scientist branding. The image above is posted on Wikimedia by Michael Kastelic; it is copyright-free but requests attribution.

Of Course, You Can Still Use Incredible Stills offers a vast collection of high-definition desktop wallpaper backgrounds. They are lush and enormous and you can’t take your eyes off of them.

pexels christian heitz zoom background

Studio Ghibli, a wildly fantastical collection of animators led by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, has posted a collection of stills from their movies to use for free as a Zoom backgrounds library. While the stills are absolutely gorgeous and perfect, and can you tell I’m a fan, there are other options for finding the perfect Zoom background picture — also for free.

zoom background

Unsplash Zoom Backgrounds

Unsplash is one of my favorite sites for high-resolution free photographs. They do a fantastic job of promoting the work of amateurs and professionals from all over the world. Their files are a cinch to download, and their tagging work is top-shelf. I’ve been pausing my TV for the last three weeks to investigate the bookshelves behind celebrity guests on late-night talk shows. Now I can have my own top-shelf bookshelf at my back.

Zoom background
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash

If you’re looking for something more office-like or modern, Unsplash is loaded with perfect shots, like this one, by Samantha Gades, which has been viewed more than 13 million times.

Zoom backgrounds
Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Flickr Commons’ Library of Congress Collection

Sometimes you want that old-school dignity only a picture of a 700-pound desk from the 18th century can properly impart in your Zoom background. The Library of Congress’ collection of public domain photos has your back. Like wacky circus shots of a drunk carny from the 1930s? Want a picture of the actual Rosie the Riveter? There are no copyright restrictions because these photos belong to the American people to abuse as quirky Zoom backgrounds, as is their birthright.

700-pound desk from the 18th century

A Free Zoom Background to Make Your Zoom Colleagues Jealous

I can’t use my home office as my background for legal reasons (because my wife is an attorney and she uses the back of my office to store empty boxes, old mops and broken lamps). Also, my dog won’t stop hogging the camera. So when I Zoom, I just pop down to my swanky downtown apartment/office (pictured below) and work from my luxury couch, which is a total lie. I’m at my desk right now, sitting on an old Amazon box filled with catalogs. But nobody knows it because I use one of the free backgrounds from West Elm and I look like I’m a millionaire.

City apartment background
No, seriously, I live here.

Zoom Backgrounds From Famous Shows

Modsy is an interior design app offering free downloads of living spaces from famous TV shows. You can look like you’re working from Seinfeld’s apartment, Monica’s place in “Friends,” or the “Three’s Company” kitchen below, which is a total lie because that’s actually the kitchen from “The Golden Girls.” Makes a great Zoom background.

Modsy background

What’s your favorite Zoom background? Let us know @AttnyatWork or post to our Facebook page.

You might also like Marsha Hunter’s “Seven ‘Public Speaking’ Tips for Videoconferencing” while #WFH #SIP.

Featured Illustration ©

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Categories: COVID-19, News and Trends, Remote Work, Videoconferencing, Virtual Law Practice, You At Work
Originally published March 5, 2023
Last updated October 24, 2023
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BULL Garlington Bull Garlington

Analog Attorney columnist Bull Garlington is an award-winning author, columnist and public speaker. He is the author of the books “Fat in Paris,” “The Full English,” “Death by Children” and “The Beat Cop’s Guide.” He prefers South American literature, classic jazz, Partagas 1945s, a decent Laphroaig, and makes a mean chicken and andouille gumbo. Follow him @bull_garlington.

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