1) Driving directions - Our rural Hawaii roads are very poorly
marked. For example, maps show our road as Bishop Road but the sign
out front says Old Poi Factory Road. There are lots of other turns
with no signs at all. It really helps to have photos and tips like
"turn right at the chickens." Farm tours go much smoother when the
guests can find their way here.
2) Tractor overhaul - I recently
overhauled my cheap Chinese tractor. The tractor is poorly engineered
and the manual is in Engrish. Luckily, when disassembling the timing
gears, I was smart enough to take a picture first. Without that
reference it would have been nearly impossible to reassemble the tractor properly.
3) Product quality - We ship fresh
100% Kona coffee through the mail and occasionally we have some customers that
are concerned about their coffee arriving damage free. The post office
likes to squish the coffee. I could explain the problem but it was easier
and more effective to simply take a picture. When customers know exactly
what to expect, it really helps prevent unnecessary returns of perfectly good coffee.
4) What to expect - We sometimes get volunteers
interested in working on the farm. Being in Hawaii, some people think
it will be more of a vacation. Thanks to my digital camera, I have a
lot of pictures on what kind of work they can expect while here. That
has substantially cut down on the number of free loaders inquiring
about "working" on the farm.
5) Electrician Wanted - When trying to wire my
new coffee pulper from Colombia, I spoke with every electrician on the
island but none of them could help. After posting a picture of the
problem, a friend's father, who worked for mining companies as an
electrician, responded with the answer I was looking for. There's
no way I could have solved the problem without the help of digital photos.
6) Barn Design - When designing my barn, digital
photography helped me prototype how the barn would eventually look. Virtual pictures
were very helpful when describing things to building inspectors, work crews and
friends. For example, I could try out different door
designs before actually building one.
7) Trespassing Cattle -
We had a problem with cattle from the neighboring ranch destroying our coffee.
Discussions with the rancher and the police went nowhere. Luckily my accumulated
photographic evidence provided enough proof that legal action was avoided. In the
end, a few photos saved me thousands of dollars.
8) Party Invitations - For the kids, a fun party
game is a photo treasure hunt. For example, they'll start with a picture
of the water tank. At the water tank they'll find a picture of the top of
the avocado tree. Up in the tree is a picture of the chicken coop...
keeps the kids busy for hours.
9) Flying Farmer - Sometimes a little
Photoshop work can provide
lots of fun. When the cable repairman was replacing our modem he saw this picture on
my computer. He was convinced that I actually jumped off the three story high barn
roof. I finally explained that the photo was faked because I didn't want him going home
and jumping off his roof with nothing but an umbrella.
10) Time Lapse - I've always been fascinated by time-lapse photography.
I used to only see it on Sesame Street but now it's everywhere. The idea is common
but there's still plenty of room for creative work. It's easiest if your camera has
an "intervalometer" so you can take photos at set intervals. I once made a movie of
our daughter zooming around the yard in her magic sled with nobody pulling it but I seem
to have lost the video. So here are some of my favorites that I can find.
11) Product Marketing - This last one doesn't really count
because it is shamless self promotion rather than an innovative idea. Still, it
always amazes me how many people try to sell stuff online without good pictures of the
product. If you don't own a digital camera then don't sell stuff on EBay. If
you're a realtor or own an online business, either learn how to use your digital camera or
hire a professional. I try to take pictures of our coffee and the farm so people
know what they're buying as well as where it came from. When shopping online, I think
being able to see a picture really helps.