As fate would have it, our first photography sessions have coincided with the arrival of hot summer weather.
Working in a confined space under the glare of studio lights is a bit of a challenge at the best of times, but even more uncomfortable as the temperatures rise!
Part of our work for the ‘Shakespeare-by-Design’ project is to create good quality images of selected items from the RSC’s costume collection. These can then be used in a variety of ways, from providing ‘virtual’ access to costume on-line, to enhancing catalogue records on the collection database.
So how are we doing?
Photographing costume is a slow business. Garments can be very fragile, complex and heavy, and mounting them onto mannequins needs care, patience and stamina. We want to make them look as good as we can, without causing them damage, and there’s been quite a bit of scrambling around on hands and knees as we adjust drapes and folds.
Then there’s the positioning of lights and accurate camera work to capture the best images possible.
Some of the costume is really impressive in its detail and craftsmanship.
We don’t know what David Tennant will be wearing as ‘Richard II’ later this year, but Jeremy Irons wore this stunning cloak in a lavish portrayal of the king in the RSC’s 1986 production.
The camera allows us to explore the costume in detail, revealing features that are normally hard to see, such as the delicate ‘gold’ leaves that decorate the shoulders and the rich blue and gold figured fabric that is just visible at the back of the stand-up collar.
We hope that by the end of the project we will have recorded images of between 80 and 100 costumes, but we’d really like the weather to cool down a bit while we’re doing it!
Maggie Wood and Robyn Greenwood
‘Shakespeare by Design’ Team