I've written articles about tools I keep with me. Another important costumer tool for technicians and designers alike is a good camera. I have a Nikon DSLR that I use to take photos of my work on and off stage. With phone cameras being as good as they are sometimes work for off stage setups; onstage is another story.
Here is a very clear example of the quality difference of a stage shot on phone and traditional camera. Because of stage lighting and actors' movement the traditional camera is just much better at getting the crispness and detail of garments.
Here is another example of the phone camera not helping against stage lighting. The photo on the left is one of my favorites and I wish I had had my DSLR with me at the time.
Above are some photos I took of Romeo and Juliet (Costume design: Tric Wesp) with my DSLR Nikon. Don't they look much better than my photos from my phone? Now these photos are just large stage photos. None of them are up close shots of people or items of clothing. I took these to get an overall feel of the stage composition on show how the costumes worked with each other.
Detail shots are even noticeable when placed side by side. The photo on the left will do for a portfolio, but the one on the right looks professional and crisp.
The moral of this post is:
"Get yourself a nice camera and take a bit of time to figure out the best settings for theatre light."
I tend to get to the dress rehearsal a tad early and take a few shots of people onstage while the board op is changing around the lights. I also make sure sound is off on my camera and the digital screen is on it's lowest light setting. Before the rehearsal I also always ask the stage manager if it is a good night for photos and make sure people know I'm taking them for portfolio and such. What is nice about taking your own photos (if allowed) is that you can get the pictures of moments and garments you want. Sometimes a professional photographer will have not seen the show he is about to shoot or, he's just one person and needs to get a different picture while the actress wearing your amazing creation is in a different part of the stage. Little did you know that when you decided to go into costuming you'd also become an amateur photographer.
When I was graduating from Northern Arizona University with my BA in Theatre Studies I was very anxious about what to do next. I had applied frantically to many places but none had responded. I graduated and headed back to my parents' home to keep applying and applying. Around July I was running out of hope until I received an email...from Walt Disney World Resorts. They were offering me a six month job in Costuming at the parks.
Now, this was not just a magical job offer out of the blue. No, this was a magical job offer from a well constructed application, cover letter, and interview I did months before graduating. A friend of mine was a Disney College Program rep and she (with very little convincing) got me excited about the prospect of working for Disney after graduating and helped me through the application process. At the time of graduation I was not selected for the summer extended program so I assumed I wouldn't hear back from them. But, I did hear back in July for the Disney World College Program fall semester.
"Hold up! You graduated already! How can you do the Disney College Program "
This is true, but I had applied while still in college which qualified me for the program. Having graduated already made the program a little different for me than for others who were still at university. The biggest difference was that I didn't have to take any extra classes. While on the Disney College Program (DCP) most cast members still at university are required to take some courses that count for credit back at their originating university. Having graduated already I was able to use that time for other things; like meeting with other Walt Disney World Resort cast members who were part of the creative team behind many of the costumes used in the parks and resorts.
Working under the DCP umbrella right out of undergrad was a great transition time for me. I was surrounded by other people close to my age with planned community events. I also had a paycheck that already had my rent taken out so I didn't have to worry about paying on time. It was a good mix of college familiarity and "real world" responsibilities.
So from August 2012 to January 2013 I worked at Disney's Animal Kingdom backstage costuming the parades and characters guests could meet in the park. During my time there I enjoyed sneak peaks into upcoming Disney experiences, memorable interactions with fellow cast members and guests alike, and magical holidays. The people I worked with made my time at Disney's Animal Kingdom a great first job out of undergrad. I look back fondly on my time with Walt Disney World Resorts and encourage the experience to costumers out of undergrad who enjoy running shows and obviously Disney.
First job out of undergrad:
Disney College Program-Animal Kingdom Costumer
I could have extended my time working with Disney and DCP into the spring and following summer, but I had another position lined up. Sometimes I wonder what I would have been doing right now if I had stayed. I probably would not be getting ready for my final thesis semester at Rutgers, but who knows, I may have ended up here through another path.