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.