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I’m writing a how-to article for our local newspaper and as usual, it’s running long.  So instead of packing that piece with too many details (a technique my mother calls, “This I Also Know”), I’ll just include the overflow here.

The following list is adapted from the late, great Emyl Jenkins’ Appraisal Book.

Lesson One: How to Create a Photo Inventory of Your Household Property.

Other than a camera and a ruler, you really don’t need any special equipment.  I’ve found that the camera on my phone is better for this purpose than any other equipment I’ve tried, plus I can upload or email the results in real time.

Work room by room, moving from the general to the specific.  You’ll start with long view room shots, then move in for a closer look.

  1. Begin by making four corner shots in each room: stand in one corner and aim your camera across the room diagonally, turning and crossing the room until all four corners are captured.
  2. Open all cupboards, cabinets, drawers and closets and photograph the contents inside.
  3. Any items used in groups (such as china, crystal, silver) should be photographed both collectively and individually.  It’s not necessary to take a separate picture of every single fork, just a representative sample of each type of item.
  4. When shooting closeups of individual items, include a ruler or other measure of scale in the foreground. Try to capture a view of any labels, marks, dates, place of manufacture, brands or other clues to the object’s origins.
  5. Heads up (and down): remember to take pictures of chandeliers and rugs.
  6. Notice and record the things we often overlook: attics, basements, storage rooms, patios, tool sheds, home entertainment systems.  Did you remember that cache of flower vases under the sink?

That’s it.  Now all you have to do is remember to print out the pictures and keep them in a safe place.

Next time you feel inspired to document your belongings, you can start by labeling the back of each photo,  the first step toward creating your written inventory.  But that’s for another lesson.

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