Monday, August 15, 2005

Your Digital Camera as a Tool

By Christina VanGinkel

When I think there is nothing else new left for me to do with my digital camera, I find something that I never thought of. My mother-in-law has an extensive collection of Bradford Exchange plates and other collectibles of similar fashion. Wanting to create a recording of the collection in its entirety, we snapped photographs of each plate, front, and back, and stored the photographs on a DVD for future reference. This DVD is now stored in her safe deposit box, in case of a house fire or other disaster. She also had me make a duplicate and store it at my house for quick access.

Besides her collection of plates, we also took snapshots of various other collectibles and common items also, such as her television, DVD player, washer, dryer, bedroom set, and dining room table. Besides the still photos, we also took a small walk around the house with a video camera, creating a record of the entire house's contents. We also saved this to the same DVD, in hopes that if it a disaster ever did occur, she at least now has a record of what would be in need of replacing. I plan to create a similar log of my own house and collections. With insurance costs rising like everything else in life, it cannot hurt to have a clear record of your home's interior for your insurance company.

A fancy camera is not required to complete this task, but a digital will make it much easier. With the ease that digital photographs are transferred to a computer, and the capability of many of them to take video, you can have the task completed in very little time. If your digital cannot take video, either use your video camera or borrow someone's for an afternoon. While a typical film camera can also be used, you must then scan each photo into your computer before storing it on the DVD. While this is viable, it could take a large amount of time to accomplish in comparison to using a digital and downloading the pictures directly.

Simply take a walk through each level and room, narrating as you go. If you do have a scanner, you can add simple scanned images of any paperwork and documents that you feel will be a help in just such a situation. Insurance forms, sales slips, records of authentication, birth, and marriage certificates, etc. While a copy such as this may not be legally binding, it is often good enough to get the ball rolling on claims until you can get an authorized copy elsewhere, and if disaster strikes, your hard copy DVD can be used to print this documentation as needed.

While this may seem like a lot of work, consider the time you would have to spend after a disaster, trying to remember everything that was in your home, and the value of different items. With a visual record, it will be much easier to complete any forms your insurance company will want filed. Just tell yourself that the more prepared you are, the less likely it will be that you will ever need any of it, but if a worst case scenario happens, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by a simple visit to your safe deposit box.

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