22 Unusual Uses of a Digital Camera

My husband was walking an underground tunnel in Jerusalem a couple years ago when his flashlight died. Thanks to the LCD screen on his digital camera, he was able to get enough light to see where he was going and find the exit.

Yep, just like cell phones, digital cameras are handy little gadgets to have on you. They're definitely not just for taking family snapshots anymore! Let's explore some of the ways they can help out in a pinch:

1. Flashlight. As I've just noted, digital cameras make a pretty decent light source when you get stuck.

2. Insurance record backup. Take photos of each room of your home, with close-ups of individual items. In the event of a theft (or a worse catastrophe such as a house fire), those digital files might be invaluable for detailing what you lost. Just keep a backup in another location!

3. Stand-in scanner. Take photos of important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, driver's licenses, health insurance cards, credit cards and debit cards. Store your pics in a safe location along with your insurance records. Who needs a separate scanner?

4. Mini license plate. Take a shot of your vehicle's license plate. Print it and trim to fit in your wallet. What a clever way to keep your tag number handy! You'll never have to traipse out to the car again.

5. Original art. Your photos can be altered and edited for artistic effect to produce unique pieces of art. Play around with Photoshop. Have fun. Maybe you'll end up with something frame-worthy.

6. Travel mirror. Now here's a clever one: let your camera be your travel mirror when you're camping or staying at a hostel. Check out your reflection in the camera's LCD screen when the camera is off, or take a snapshot of yourself and review for bad hair, parsley in teeth, etc.

7. Clock. More than once I've forgotten both my cell phone and my watch ... and been saved by my camera. Click through the settings, and most likely you will find the correct time and date.

8. Passport and business card photos. Take your own photo. It's free! Just make sure to use a very well-lit location with a neutral background.

9. Clip art. Be your own free stock photo source. If you own an even halfway decent digital camera you're good to go. Use shots for presentations, blog posts and tons of other uses.

10. Record business meetings. That built-in video camera can be used for more than just birthday parties. Use it to document work events or meetings, for example.

11. How-to records. Working on anything painstaking that you might want to recreate down the line? Take photos to help you remember just how you achieved that magical effect with a Christmas tree or Thanksgiving table setting.

12. Similarly, take step-by-step shots of anything you dismantle that contains many parts. If you get confused during the reassembly phase, just refer to the photos for a reminder of what goes where.

13. Parking lot SOS. Do you invariably forget where you parked your car in those huge public lots? Take a snapshot of the location and level number just in case you get lost on the way back. It might save you a ton of walking.

14. House buying/renting. It's hard to keep track of the details when your agent has taken you to view several houses in one day. Take snapshots of each one to compare and discuss later. Same goes when shopping for other large purchases, like furniture.

15. Once you've agreed to buy or rent a property, there's usually a delay before you can actually move in. In the interim, those snaps will be a huge help as you visualize where to put your furniture and which rooms need repainting.

16. In a car crash? If you're able, take pictures of all the vehicles involved just in case of an insurance dispute later.

17. Subway or stadium map. Take one good photo of the entire map. You can refer to it again and again, zooming in and out as needed.

18. Before checking your suitcases at the airport, take a photo. You never know, it may help the relocation effort if they go walk-about due to mishandling.

19. Hotel or hostel name difficult to pronounce? Take a picture of the building and maybe the nearby street signs. If you're in a foreign country, it might be easier to show your taxi driver a photo of your hotel rather than trying to pronounce the name and location.

20. Traveling with kids? Take a snapshot of your child each morning once they're dressed for the day. If you get separated, the photo will be invaluable for showing to passersby or the authorities.

21. Avoid rental car scams. Take extensive photos of any rental car before you've driven it. Use the date/time stamp on your camera, too.

22. Photocopy fliers. Forget trying to remember all the details of that concert or yard sale. Just take a snapshot for later.

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