Most of us have done a regular, item-gathering, scavenger hunt at some point. Such a hunt can be fun, but thanks to the proliferation of the cell phone camera, the classic game can be raised to a whole new level. In a photographic scavenger hunt, you don’t need to approach strangers to ask for random objects. You don’t have to buy (much of) anything. You don’t have to manage a growing collection of bits and scraps as the game goes on. You don’t have to race to an object before anyone else gets it.
Instead of counting on luck and the power of persuasion to do well, you can rely on your intelligence and creativity.
(If you lean toward being introverted, or have friends who skew that way, this is the scavenger hunt for you.)
WHY HALLOWEEN IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR A PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT:
The Halloween season is ideal for a photo hunt. In most parts of the US, September and October are the months most likely to give us gorgeous, temperate days that make us want to get outside and do something. Why not use the hunt as an reason to get out and enjoy the season? After all, the landscape itself showcases objects and vistas that are iconically associated with Halloween. Starting in early September, shops begin displaying seasonal merchandise. By mid-September, towns and neighborhoods may start to decorate. By October first, many of us are fully immersed in a world painted in autumn colors and populated by monsters, ghosts, witches and other Halloween-y creatures.
ORGANIZE A TEAM-BASED HUNT:
Organizing a scavenger hunt may be the easiest way to entertain during the season. Because the hunt happens outdoors, in a public area, you don’t have to clean your house or cook. And you don’t need a big group of people to make it fun.
All you need is a list of inspirations, a digital camera or cell, some friends to “compete” with, and whatever amount of time you all agree to dedicate to the hunt.
To make it even easier, I’ve created a printable list of inspirations for you:
This list is appropriate for all ages. When you print the Halloween Photo Hunt list, you’ll find a couple of blank lines at the bottom. Allow teams to add their own found items, or customize the list ahead of time, to suit the location where you will play. (Here in White Bear Lake, MN, many residences and businesses display polar bear statues and signs, so it would be logical for us to add a bear to the list.)
GENERAL HOW TO:
Create your teams.
- I suggest keeping the teams small – 2-3 players – and making multiple teams, rather than dividing a large group into just two.
- Also see the VARIATIONS section below.
Define the time frame.
- See the VARIATIONS section below.
Determine your rules.
- How far in advance can participants see the scavenger hunt list? (I suggest each team member have equal time access. If you know everything on the list, you’re already thinking about how to capture some items. Don’t be a cheater; let others think ahead too.)
- What are the boundaries of the search zone?
- What method(s) of transportation are acceptable while on the quest? Is it okay to use a car, or will you restrict travel to that which can be done on foot or by bike?
- Are purchased props acceptable? How much money can be spent to obtain a photograph? (We had set an allowance of $10 to facilitate shots, but we only paid a few cents for an aluminum pie plate during our hunt.)
- Are videos allowed, or just still snapshots?
- Also see VARIATIONS section below.
#1 – The Simplest Version – In 2-6 hours.
This is the most spontaneous way to do the hunt. You only need a few people, a nice day, and a couple of hours. (Plus, of course, enough photo-capable cell phones so that each team has at least one.)
- Depending on the weather, a hunt could last anywhere from two to six hours.
- Confine the hunt to a small town, a defined section of a city, a neighborhood, or the site of a seasonal attraction (like an autumn fair).
- Set up a meeting place to begin and end at appointed times.
- If you will be out for longer period of time, considering also setting a meeting time and place, for a shared lunch or snack, in the middle of the hunt.
- At the end, get all the teams together, tally checked-off items on each team’s list, and share favorite photos by passing phones around.
- If you need to proclaim a winner, base it on total number of items checked off.
- For extra fun, have everyone send their pictures to one person who will create a digital album or slideshow that can be sent to all participants later.
The following video is the album from one of my family’s photo hunts:
#2 – The Extended Version – In a weekend or other multi-day period.
~For far-flung social groups and/or adults who want to range farther, over a longer time, or who want to create more elaborate pics.
- This variation is not about getting together with a group, but rather about working closely and creatively with your partner(s).
- Make arrangements with another team (or several) in which you define a time frame during which everyone is free to obtain photos, wherever they are.
- Teams will share / compare results after the fact.
- Make sure all teams know what the goal of the hunt is — Completion? Creativity?
- This extended version may lend itself to more elaborate photographs, set-ups, costumes, makeups, etc. Make sure teams are on roughly the same wavelength.
- Emphasis may be placed on satisfying the requirements of the right-side column of the list.
- Be clear about the length of time for the hunt AND the length of time before photos should be submitted to “opposing” teams. (Make a deadline.)
- Decide if digital photo manipulation is acceptable.
- Alternatively, teams could text or email photos to each other as they are taken, through the course of the hunt.
NOTES: It’s perfectly fine to stick to the basic hunt list that I’ve provided above, but if you’re going to do a more elaborate, extended, hunt, you could also work from a more challenging, extended, hunt list which is available in two formats. Please visit: The Halloween Photo Hunt Homepage to locate and print either format of the extended list, if you prefer.
At the homepage, you’ll find another way to play the Halloween Photo Hunt game, AS A TEAM OR AS AN INDIVIDUAL. Check out the option, and consider participating that way too.
Any original photo, taken in the six weeks before Halloween 2015,
inspired by any prompt, on any version of the hunt lists,
is eligible to be displayed in a personalized gallery at the HPH Homepage.
There are some guidelines at the homepage about what I will and will not publish in the galleries.
2015 UPDATE: The 2nd Annual Halloween Photo Hunt is up and running HERE.
A few weeks ago, I developed a photographic scavenger hunt intended for smaller, slightly less “social” social groups. (I admit, I had selfish reasons. My little nuclear family is made up of introverts. When it comes to public outings, none of us want to beg actual items from strangers.)
We got a chance to give the game a full on test run last Friday. We played parents v. kids, in two teams of two. It was chilly, so we limited the game to two hours.
We had a blast. I’d play again in a heartbeat.
While the simple items from the scavenger hunt list are still on display, have a go at it yourself. I’ll bet you can come up with even more creative shots and poses than we did.
My favorite photos:
And here’s a video collage of the whole thing.