A traditional scavenger hunt challenges a person or team to travel around a location collecting different objects. A photo scavenger hunt works on the same principle, but requires less carrying; players compete to collect photographs of themselves with specified places, objects or people. A photo scavenger hunt is an easy way to introduce team members to each other and help them learn their way around a new area.
Before the Game
Before you begin your photo scavenger hunt, scout the area you intend to use. This could be as small as a park or campus or as large as an entire city. Look out for local landmarks or trends among the people you pass. Create a list of possible scavenger hunt items. These can either be general, such as "a kid wearing a T-shirt for a band that broke up before he was born," or specific, such as "a giant bronze clock with a sculpture of a locust on top of it." Create one list for each team you plan to have, plus a few spares. Just to be safe, print the rules of the game on the list of items as well.
Arrange for all your players to meet at a specified time. Divide them into teams and give each team a copy of the scavenger hunt list. Specify an ending time for the game -- how long you allow will vary depending on how much time you have available. At the end of this period, the teams should return to the starting point. Explain the boundaries of the playing area and make sure that each team has one or more cameras; with the rise of the smartphone camera, you'll usually find at least a few, but always check to make sure, particularly with younger players.
Playing and Scoring
The teams will now separate, spreading throughout the playing area to get as many photos of items on the list as they can. Each member of the team -- other than the photographer -- should be in every photograph. At the specified time, the teams return to the start area and compare the photos they've taken. The team with the most items from the list is the winner. If there's any doubt about whether a photograph qualifies, you as organizer should act as referee and make the final decision.
Using New Tools
If all of your players have smartphones and don't mind using up some of their phone data, you can organize your scavenger hunt entirely digitally. Send players the time and place to begin and post the rules online. Each player will meet his team when he arrives at the specified location. Have the players upload their photographs using image-sharing services or social media. The teams don't even have to convene at the end of the game if you don't want them to; simply tally up the number of photo posts to choose the winner.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.