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Photo Scavenger Hunts

Updated on February 22, 2016
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FunScavengerHunts is here to try ind bring people together with scavenger hunts and photo scavenger hunts.


Scavenger hunts are nothing new to most people. Even if you have not personally participated in one, the likelihood is that you know what they are. They are an absolute classic amongst a seemingly endless series of options when hoping to entertain your children. Few other games or activities have remained so consistently within our lives throughout our development as a society. And yet scavenger hunts have changed and advanced over the years. Now we are able to take advantage of all of our progress and incorporate technology into our activities in order to take part in photo scavenger hunts.

There once was a time when taking a picture was expensive, but that was long ago. Truly, we now take pictures for granted. Many of us have on our person, at any given time, at least one device that is capable of taking photographs instantly. And when coming up with scavenger hunt ideas it seems natural and easy to incorporate photography, seeing as they're often just a button away from creation.

So, the marriage of two in order to create a photo scavenger hunt isn't much of a leap. But what scavenger hunt ideas best lend themselves to the incorporation of photography? What new possibilities are opened when you add photography to the mix? And how could these photo scavenger hunts be beneficial to our children? These questions cannot properly be answered until we first examine the basics of photo based scavenger hunts, which are thankfully simple.

Photo Scavenger Hunt: What is it?

The Basics

Scavenger hunts are awesome methods of having fun. These games can bundle together some of the best aspects of all games, including exploration, strategy, and (of course), that excellent feeling of success.

Some might say that today, scavenger hunts are losing some of the popularity they once had. While this may or may not be true, people do tend to believe that the game involves plenty of tedious planning and meticulous ways of writing and recording what objects have been found and what haven’t.

They, however, happen to be forgetting the blessing of modern day technological innovations! One of the greatest boons that the scavenger hunt was ever granted was the mobile photographic camera. Almost everyone has a digital camera, and you can take and erase pictures to your heart’s content. Those who don’t have a dedicated digital camera probably have a phone, (smart or regular) and they almost always have a camera nowadays.

With cameras, the issue of figuring out a way to capture the item and prove that you found it is all but eradicated!

Advantages of Photo Scavenger Hunts

In choosing to organize a photo scavenger hunt, you’ve definitely made the job a lot easier than it could possibly be if you chose otherwise. This method of scavenger hunting opens up a variety of new possibilities that did not exist before.

  • You have a wider choice of items on your list. Your photo scavenger hunt list can consist of things large or small, close up or far away. In a regular scavenger hunt, you might be restricted by the fact that you can only choose items for your list that are reappearing and close enough for them to be very obvious, but this clearly isn’t the case now. Location can also be a problem in regular scavenger hunt games because you have to make sure that all your items can be found in one small area with little chance of everyone walking right by the item and not even catching on to the fact that it’s there. With photo scavenger hunts, you can choose large items that are easy to see, but can possibly be spread out across an entire park, or even a whole town! This makes the game more about who can strategically follow hints and rules and be able to find the correct locations being referred to, rather than a game of “who has the best eyes”.
  • You don’t have to carry around clipboards. The extra bulk of carrying around clipboards, pencils or pens, and paper make general scavenger hunts get boring and irritating on certain occasions. Well, now that most people have smartphones, you can use those. Conveniently small enough to fit in any purse, pocket, or belt, clip, it’s certainly a lot easier than lugging around a one foot by 10 inch clipboard, and also having to be constantly worried if your pencil will break. If you are using smartphones, you can incorporate the list on the devices as well, squelching the necessity for paper and eliminating even more things that your fortunate scavengers would have to carry. You don’t even need all your players having smartphones or anything. All you need, if you are using the group scavenger hunt method, is one person per handful that has a smartphone. The rest of each group can rely on that one person, instead of every single person carrying around their individual device and taking pictures.
  • There’s a significantly slighter (albeit, we will admit, still possible) chance of cheaters. Usually in regular scavenger hunts, you’d have to find the object on your list then mark it off. This could be easily manipulated by the scavengers just crossing off something on the list and claiming they have it, when they really have not even seen it. Other people play scavenger hunts in a way that the organizer(s) of the event hide objects and they have to find it, rather than just spotting things out in the wild. This is also a good way to play, except that once you pick up the object, its gone and no other group can find it. This can be disappointing to them, as their chances of winning are now zip. With cameras, you get to have a digital form of evidence that you successfully found the object. You also don’t even have to touch it, much less move it if the people setting up the event had hidden them. It’s a win-win situation, as both problems are quickly and easily solved, without even having to go through any processes that take long or a lot of unnecessary and extraneous effort.
  • Teamwork is made more necessary and abundant. If you want to arrange your game in teams, and have groups of people working together, you can possibly allow only one camera per group. This would enforce a strong sense of teamwork in that all eyes are searching for the items on the list, and they aren’t able to split up and each take their own pictures. Teamwork is an important thing in group based games, because bonding is half the fun of any game. While exploring and working together to seek out specific targets, the players will all learn about their teammates and are certain to have plenty of laughs and memorable great times.
  • You get memories and great photographs as a byproduct. By choosing a photo scavenger hunt, you’ve found a way to create pictures out of happy moments and save them, while maintaining a natural atmosphere. The players don’t feel forced and fake a pose or smile when taking pictures during a photo scavenger hunt, as they are just taking pictures as part of the game and process. You can stand by the object or item you’ve found and take pictures with them, forever preserving that valuable happy memory of bonding with friends and family and having a great time together. In an almost poetic way, your game will be played by all of the participants, and they can also have the perfect opportunity to preserve photographs of themselves with family, friends, and newly made pals.

Disadvantages of Photo Scavenger Hunts

While photo scavenger hunts have tons upon tons of good things to be said about them, there are a few drawbacks, as there are to anything in the world, not to mention games. These drawbacks aren’t even a large issue, but may be potentially game-changing (if you’ll forgive the pun) if you have certain expectations from the game, and set out procedures and methods of playing.

  • A significant drawback of using cameras to take part in photo scavenger hunts is that younger children might not be able to participate. Scavenger hunts can usually be arranged for pretty much all ages, but handing a child that is barely able to read a camera is presumably not a wise idea, as that camera will likely be destroyed very quickly. Electronic devices are rather fragile, and are certainly not intended to be a child’s plaything. Smartphones can be even greater in value than a camera, depending solely on what camera and/or phone you have, so those aren’t good for small children to play with either. If you’re setting up a scavenger hunt for little kids, the photo method may not exactly be for you.
  • Not everyone may have a good camera or smartphone. While those who do have them may not even believe that it’s possible to live without them, there are those that cannot afford them, or simply choose not to. Some people believe that they don’t need such devices, and that’s quite all right. However, you don’t want to have to exclude people from the game just because they don’t have the device, and if you don’t plan on setting up your hunt using teams, this might not end well. If you know that your party may not possess electronics capable of capturing pictures, you might want to choose another route in your scavenger hunt organizing stage.

Scavenger hunts alone are awesome, and photo scavenger hunts can be even better. While the game may have its reasons not to choose it, most situations allow for photo scavenger hunts. You’re guaranteed to have a wonderful time if you take the moment to organize and plan out how your photo scavenger hunt will go. Happy hunting!

The Basic Rules of a Photo Scavenger Hunt

The basic rules of a photo scavenger hunt are as follows: every object collected and objective completed must be captured in the form of a photograph, otherwise it is not valid. That is to say that you could complete every item on your scavenger hunt list and still lose if these completions are not properly documented.

So, for example, one of your list items might be something simple or silly like “obtain a bowl full of fruit.” You could go through the trouble of obtaining the bowl of fruit, bring it with you at the end of the hunt, and it would mean nothing if you didn't have a picture of it with you too. In short, you aren't really collecting the objects of a photo scavenger hunt. You're collecting pictures of the object.


Using Photos to Collect the Non-Physical

The most important direct application of the above ideas is the allowance that abstract activities can now be used in scavenger hunts. If you were participating in a regular scavenger hunt that had a list including “do a handstand” and “high-five a store clerk,” how would you go about collecting these “items”? You really couldn't. You cannot preform an activity and take it with you somewhere, as that is not how reality works.

With a photo scavenger hunt you can, however, do the next best thing. You are taking a photograph of an experience which cannot be transported to the end result session of the scavenger hunt. The photograph itself documents the experience and becomes the item of the hunt. So you are no longer collecting physical objects, but more rather documenting non-physical events. It might be more appropriate to phrase your list in such a way that it says “obtain a picture of yourself high-fiving a store clerk” instead of simply “high-five a store clerk,” because the picture is the entire point.

Friendly Competition

When doing a photo scavenger hunt for kids, or with friends, you can split into teams and use the resulting photographs of your hunts to decide who did a better job. This gives you a more structured game and fosters friendly competition. No longer are the two teams winning or losing based on speed in a photo scavenger hunt. Those judging the photographs can chose winners based on creativity, comedic impact, or the composition of the photo itself. This makes things infinitely more interesting, as it forces you to think outside of the box.

The Benefit to your Children

Speaking of thinking outside of the box, a photo scavenger hunt is a great way to teach your children to do just that. Gently guide them towards accomplishing the goals of the scavenger hunt in the most out-there way possible. This will help alter the way they think and give them an edge later in life. The ability to think creatively can help your children excel in school, at writing, and at the creation of art or music. It is one of the most important skills that a growing young person can obtain.

In addition to the skill development, photo scavenger hunts are, quite simply put, fun. And who doesn't want to have a good time? You'll be building some great family memories that won't be forgotten. In fact...

Lifelong Mementos

The greatest part of these specific types of scavenger hunt is that they lend themselves to remembrance. You can keep the photographs once you are done – either as physical prints or as digital files – and look back at them for years to come. If you're a nostalgic and/or sentimental individual then this might be the kind of thing you'll appreciate in a decade or two. You could, perhaps, make a scrapbook to give your child when they get older. At the very least it would serve as a reminder of their carefree youth, one that they could look back to as they faced the trials of later life.

We should all be grateful that we live in a time with such easily accessible technology. It trickles down into everything we do, be it work or play. And if you're looking to keep tradition alive in this ever progressive world you don't need to shun said tech. You can integrate the two – tradition and technology – into one wonderful thing. Not only will your children appreciate the merger, but you will have tokens of their childhood to fondly look back on for years to come.


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