Photo scavenger hunts are the rage now. They are a great way to provide entertainment and can be adjusted to fit the participants’ demographics. They can be made to be extremely fun for children or a little naughty for adults. This is a fantastic party game which won’t cost a lot of money and will give lots of amusement and delight to your participants. Are your interest piqued yet? Read on to find out how you can set up an awesome photo scavenger hunt and you will be an expert in no time at all!
The Ultimate Photo Scavenger Hunt Guide
To put it simply, a scavenger hunt is a game where individual participants or teams are given a list of objects which they have to locate. Some scavenger hunts have a set time limit and when the time is up, the team or person who has located the most items on the list wins. Other scavenger hunts do not have a limit but rather, the first team or person who has successfully found all the items on the list wins.
Perhaps you have heard of a treasure hunt before and think that it is the same as a scavenger hunt. While both games require the participants to go from one location to another, there is a small difference. A treasure hunt involves finding desirable objects, hence, the word “treasure”. They can be candies, presents, a bottle of beer – anything that the participant will want and the finder gets to keep the treasures. On the other hand, a scavenger hunt involves looking for items that are not valuable on their own but collecting all of them will lead to a grand prize.
Just like a treasure hunt, you can organize a scavenger hunt within a small space like your backyard or it could encompass a huge area, requiring the participants to roam around the entire city. Take into account that if you have young kids participating, it might not be easy for them to travel across the city.
If the scavenger hunt is organized at home, the list of objects could be things like a particular picture frame, a pen, a pillow, etc. Should you want to play the game outdoors like in a park, you could involve objects like a triangular-shaped rock, a brown feather, a four-leaf clover etc. Just remember that you do not want to turn it into a treasure hunt and you should only use trivial objects in the list.
What is a photo scavenger hunt?
A photo scavenger hunt follows the same rules as the traditional scavenger hunt where participants are given a list of items to find. However, instead of just locating the items for the next clue, the participants will have to take a photo of the objects in their list – usually within a set time limit. The objects on the list to take pictures of could be anything from a rock to a specific place or even a person. The participants can feature themselves in the pictures and take a selfie too.
Just like a traditional scavenger hunt, the game can be played by individuals or in teams. A point system is usually in place and the winner is the team or player who has collected the most points. With a point system, you can assign more points to difficult tasks or even award bonus points to something creative. When players have completed all tasks on the list, they return to the organizer and show their photos. The organizer will then award the appropriate points to the player or team. You can subtract points if a team or person is late as a penalty or award bonus points for the first team/ player who returns with all tasks completed.
If the photo scavenger hunt is organized for young children, you should make the photography tasks quite simple and straightforward like taking a picture of the largest leaf you can find (extra points for the participant with the biggest leaf), a brown cat, a crow on a tree etc. Should you be organizing a photo scavenger hunt for adults, you can certainly make it a lot more challenging, forcing the participants to be creative. This could require the participants to get help from a stranger or photograph them doing (or attempting) something difficult like forming a human pyramid in the middle of a crowded place. Remember, the more ridiculous the task is, the funnier and more entertaining the game will be.
One key difference between a regular scavenger hunt and a photo scavenger hunt is that the latter allows for an opportunity to show teamwork and interaction with strangers. Because of this, a photo scavenger hunt is an ideal activity as an icebreaker. With all the key moments captured in photographs, participants already have a special keepsake to remind them fondly of the hunt without any effort from the organizer. Because a photo scavenger hunt is so versatile, it can be made to literally fit every occasion, whether it is for a bachelor party, a business outing, or entertainment for young kids.
The things you definitely need for a photo scavenger hunt
As mentioned above, you can organize a photo scavenger hunt for individuals or for different teams. In my experience, the game is best played with the participants divided into teams. The minimum number to guarantee a great time is about nine people, dividing them up into groups of three. You can obviously have bigger teams. The bigger the team, the bigger the potential for you to plan something more complicated for them to complete.
While you can let your participants pick their own team or randomly select them, it is perhaps best if the organizer manually picks the team. This ensures a more evenly distributed team members in terms of competitiveness, age, size, etc. Not only that, you can put people who do not know each other well into the same team to encourage more interaction between them.
2. Picture capturing device
Almost everyone (except for very young children) own a mobile phone which they use to take pictures. Each participating team will need to have at least one photo-capturing device and we usually let team members use their own phones.
If you want to make it more fun and hip, you could provide a Polaroid camera for each team. However, this could incur a considerable sum of money so it will depend on how big your budget is.
3. A viewing device
At the end of the game, you will need something to look at the photos and assign points. You can use a tablet, a laptop, or even plug it into your big TV screen so everyone could look at the photos at the same time.
4. A list of tasks
You can print out the list of tasks you have prepared and hand them over to each team or participant on the day but before the photo scavenger hunt starts. Alternatively, you can send the list electronically to every participant at least a few days before the game and they can either print it out themselves or view the list using their mobile device, making it more environmentally friendly.
You will need to set up a meeting spot before the game begins and also a place where all participants should end up at. They could be the same location or different ones, depending on the design of the game. Remember that you will need a place to look at all the pictures and tally up the points, which could take a considerable amount of time, so choose your location wisely.
You should also set a geographical zone where players are allowed to move around in to take their photos. You do not want someone to get carried away and venture so far away that they cannot make it back in time.
You will, of course, need to have at least one prize for the winning team or person. It could be anything from very expensive electronic gadgets to a bag of candies if you do not have a huge budget. You can even prepare a certificate of participation for all participants so everyone has something to take away from the scavenger hunt.
Optional things for your photo scavenger hunt
If the area of your photo scavenger hunt covers the entire town or city, you might need to arrange for each team to have at least one car. You can also use the public transport system to move the participants around but you will have to make sure that it is convenient and realistic to do so.
2. A #hashtag
You can create a #hashtag for your scavenger hunt so participants could upload their photos to their social media accounts in real time and everyone could see how the game progresses live.
When you are adding up the scores, other people will be just waiting about with nothing to do. Having some drinks and maybe even some snacks available will keep them more patient.
The rules of a photo scavenger hunt
Now that you know what are the things you need for a photo scavenger hunt, it is time to find out exactly how to play the game.
The first thing you need to get organized is the players. For playing with individuals, you will need at least six people whereas for playing in teams, there should be a minimum of nine people. There isn’t really a limit to the maximum number of participants allowed but you need to take into account your ability to manage all of them.
If you are playing in teams, separate the participants into groups with an even distribution of age, size, ability, etc. Then, give every team a list of photos to take plus a time limit. The photographs they need to take could be just objects or locations that are easily found or something more complicated like an activity involving a stranger or executing a complex task.
Once the participants reach the final destination with their completed photo tasks or when the time limit is up, you will need to assign points for each of the photo taken. More points can be awarded to completed tasks with higher complexity or for photos that are particularly creative. When everyone has returned with their photos and the points are tallied up, you should gather all participants so that everyone can have a look at the photos of the other teams/ players. At the end of it, declare a winner and organize a small prize-giving ceremony.
One of the best things about a photo scavenger hunt is how flexible it can be. You can design the game to fit almost all situations like the age group of your participants. You can even implement additional rules to create your desired outcome. For example:
- Participants can only use a photo for one task only, even if it could work for several items on the list.
- All team members must stay and move together for the entire duration of the scavenger hunt. You can ensure that this rule is followed by asking that each photo for the tasks must have the faces of the entire team. Alternatively, you can give each team one unique object, like a small miniature, and ask that this particular object must be visible in each photo. This also ensures that the participants do not cheat by asking other people to take the photo and send it to them.
Things to think about when organizing a photo scavenger hunt
1. The tasks
This is perhaps the most challenging part of designing a photo scavenger hunt and will require some time and creativity on the organizer’s part. However, it can also be very fun especially when you know you can push the participants to their limits.
The key thing here is to make the tasks challenging yet fun but not so difficult that it is almost impossible to complete. For example, asking a stranger to kiss one of the team members on the cheek might be a good idea. However, you can make it more challenging (and funnier) if you ask that the team member’s face to be covered in whipped cream first before asking for someone they do not know to kiss them.
Not every task has to appear to be goofy or challenging. It can just be quite simple like taking a photo of three team members sitting on an office chair. While it seems rather straightforward, players first have to find an office chair in the middle of the city and then convince the people at the office to let them sit on it – with three people! The task could appear simple, but it will require some time and skills from players to convince strangers to let them sit in their chair.
You will need to consider how realistic your tasks are. You might think that certain objects or things are very easy to find, but it might not be so in real life. Things like taking a photo of a house with a pink fence or find a man dressed in a tuxedo sound easy enough, but if the entire neighborhood does not have one single house with a pink fence or nobody is out that day in a tuxedo, you might end up frustrating the players. They might think that’s one of the easiest tasks on the list and started off with it but end up spending most of their allowable time on a wild goose chase.
Take your time in designing the most challenging, amusing but feasible tasks for your participants. Do not be afraid that they might get embarrassed. You might be surprised at how far your players are willing to go to complete a task when driven by their competitive spirit.
2. The task list
If you are having trouble thinking up the tasks, a good way is to start off with a theme. It will help narrow down the possible task options and you will already have an idea of how the tasks should be like after the theme has been decided.
The theme can really be anything you want but you should choose a suitable theme according to the demographics and preference of the participants. For example, a sexy theme is obviously not suitable when you have young kids participating in the game. You also do not want something boring which might not appeal to the majority of your players.
If you are organizing a photo scavenger hunt on a holiday, then you already have your theme. For example, you can have a 4th of July photo scavenger hunt where players need to find objects with blue, red, and white. On Halloween, you will obviously have a spooky-themed game and you will want to have the players look for things like a witch’s hat, cobwebs, pumpkins, etc.
Should you plan on giving extra points for creativity and not just merely for completing a task, then your tasks will need to be more open to creative interpretations. For example, you can ask that players take a photo of the most beautiful face they can find and you will surely end up with many creative outcomes. Players might try to make one of their own face beautiful with make-up (and fail hilariously) or try to take a picture with a very beautiful stranger. Or come up with something else entirely!
If you are a bit stuck at first, you can first make a list with different categories that you want to involve in your game. Some categories you can include are animals, people, places, buildings, food, body parts, fashion, and many more. Under each category, fill in as many things as you can think of, be it an ordinary item or something unexpected. For example, you can fill in “a post office” under the “places” category, or “a unibrow” under the “body parts” category. The best thing to do is have fun at it and if you are chuckling to yourself as you are filling in the list, then your players will certainly find it amusing too.
When you have populated your list, start to pick and match the items together. For example, you can choose the “a post office” place and the “a unibrow” body part and request the players to take a photo of a unibrow at the post office. If they cannot find someone with a unibrow at the post office, they will have to use their creativity to make one.
3. The clues
Treasure hunts usually use clues to lead the players to the required destination. The clues can come in the form of a riddle, a question, or a rhyme. You can certainly incorporate this element into your photo scavenger hunt so that players must first figure out what is the task on the list.
However, keep in mind that with a treasure hunt, the players can confirm their guess when they have found the hidden treasure. On the other hand, there is no way for players to confirm their guess in a photo scavenger hunt. Therefore, you might end up with players misinterpreting your clues and coming up with photos that are entirely different from what you had in mind. This might not be a bad thing if you want to award bonus points for the most creative photo, but it might disrupt the scoring system if certain photos are disqualified because players took a photo of the wrong object.
How the scoring system works in a photo scavenger hunt
As mentioned before, the team or participant who has successfully completed a task will be awarded a set number of points. The list you hand to the participants should already have the points written down for each task. This is so that the participants can plan how they want to attack the list and prioritise the tasks they want to complete first. Some players might go for the most difficult tasks first and only go for simple ones if they have the time. On the other hand, others might prefer to go for completing as many simple tasks as possible within the given time.
As for how many points should be awarded to each task, it is up to you. For example, you can give 5 points for a straightforward and simple task, 10 points for something more complicated, and 15 points for extremely difficult ones.
2. Bonus points
On top of awarding the standard points for completing a task, you can implement a set of bonus points that players could earn for fulfilling certain conditions. To give you an idea, some bonus points can be awarded for:
- The first team to complete every task
- The team who has the most number of stranger participants (not passerby)
- The first team who gets to the final destination
- The most creative/ funny team
3. Extra element points
You can also give players a list of random objects which if they capture in their photos, they can earn extra points. However, each element can only be used once for points. Your list could have some of the most random and silliest things you can think of. You do not even need to be too realistic in it since they are a form of extra points to be earned and are completely optional.
Your list could even contain a unique object like the Mona Lisa or a celebrity like Justin Bieber. You could also add in mythical creatures like a flying unicorn or a one-eyed monster (players might find these on a poster, for example). Another idea for the list is “someone named X”. X here could be any name that none of the players has so they will have to go about asking strangers for their names. To prove that they actually found someone with the name “X”, you can ask them to take a photo of X with his or her Facebook profile.
Make sure that you assign a point to each element so that players know which ones to go for. Anything goes here and you can make it as easy or as difficult as you want for the players.
You can subtract a certain number of points for participants who broke the rule or are not particularly good. For example, one point is subtracted for each minute that the team is late in arriving at the final destination.
Do remember that the main aim of the game is to have fun and not to punish your participants. Therefore, you should only implement a few penalties. It is still a game after all!
Viewing the photos
A huge part of a photo scavenger hunt is looking at all the photos that everyone has submitted to complete the tasks given.
You can start the viewing session on a big screen after all players have returned and points have been tallied. Alternatively, you can have players upload the photos to a dedicated site or social media account as they are completing their tasks so everyone can follow the progress of the game in real time. There are advantages to both ways.
If everyone only views the photos together after the “hunt” part of the game has concluded, there could be a lot more interaction between everyone, making the viewing session extremely fun. Furthermore, participants will not be able to copy another team’s idea when they are trying to complete the same task. With the second idea, it could increase motivation and competitiveness while the teams are trying to get their tasks done.
Both ways work so you will have to decide which one is best for your group. Keep in mind that the first idea will require more time so if time is of the essence, you might consider going with the second idea.
A checklist for organizing a photo scavenger hunt
Before the game
- Send every participant their invitation
- Inform everyone where the meeting place is at and what time should they be there
- If the photo scavenger hunt will cover quite some distance, advice participants to wear comfortable footwear and bring a bottle of water.
On the day of the game
- Assign all participants into teams
- Make sure each team/ participant has the list of tasks
- If you are asking each team to take photos with a particular object, hand the objects out
- Ensure that each team has at least one working camera
- Go over the rules of the game with everyone, including where the final destination is and the time limit
- Explain the point system and encourage the participants to be creative
The next few days
- Send a message out to everyone to thank them
- You can create an online photo book with some of the most memorable photographs from the scavenger hunt and send the link out to everyone
- Plan the next photo scavenger hunt!
Photo scavenger hunt ideas for adults
Even if you are all grown up, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up playing games! Adults love some good-natured competition, social interaction, and to demonstrate their creativity. A photo scavenger hunt is perfect for this and more!
1. Company team-building activity
If you are organizing a something for a company team-building session then photo scavenger hunt certainly fits the bill. You can play the game right in your office building or at a corporate outing, wherever it may be. The game can both increase camaraderie between colleagues or act as an icebreaker for people who work in different departments. You can design the photo-taking tasks to be related to your work too.
A photo scavenger hunt is fantastic to help people explore a new place and pay closer attention to their environment. It can be used as an educational tool for photography classes, history classes, botanical courses, etc.
3. For a bachelor or bachelorette party
Spice up a party with a photo scavenger hunt and you can make it as tame or as wild as you want, depending on the audience. The tasks can be designed to be slightly risque to fit the theme or as wholesome as it needs to be so that the participants are not too shocked by it. This game is also perfect for a group of people who might or might not know everyone, forcing them to get acquainted quickly and in a fun way!
4. A drinking game
Easily turn a photo scavenger hunt into a drinking activity by combining it with a pub crawl! While pub crawls are known to be fun and wild, it does get a bit repetitive – head over to a bar, drink, move to the next bar, drink, rinse and repeat. By adding photo-taking challenges to a pub crawl, you can be quite certain of ending up with even more energy and some unexpected photos.
One danger of binge drinking is dehydration and you can ensure that everyone regularly has a glass of water by making it a task in the photo scavenger hunt. You can even alternate between photo-taking tasks and drinking game tasks to make it seem less “boring”.
5. To complement a themed event
So you have set a theme for a party and what better way to spice up the event than with a costume photo scavenger hunt? Get your guests to dress up and a photo scavenger hunt will ensure that you have lots of photos taken during the event for you to keep as a memory of the party.
Photo scavenger hunt ideas for children
Almost every kid loves scavenger hunts and they will certainly love photo scavenger hunts too. With this game, you can get children to learn how to cooperate with others and enhance their problem-solving skills while having fun the whole time.
1. Children parties
If you are trying to think up activities for your kid’s birthday party, you should definitely consider organizing a photo scavenger hunt. Not only is it fun and you can keep the children entertained for a long time, it can also be quite educational for them too. You can design the tasks to be easy or complicated, depending on the age group. You can keep the children indoors or get them to play outside in the yard. Anything is possible here!
2. A game in a park
A photo scavenger hunt in a park can be a perfect day out where your kids and their friends spend some time outside and not get couped up at home. Make it into an educational day where the children can learn about nature. Perhaps get them to pick up some trash as a task to teach them to respect our environment. You can add in a small presentation about how important it is to protect our environment during the viewing session at the end of the game too.
Other photo scavenger hunt ideas
Combine bingo with photo scavenger hunt
Instead of giving your participants a list of tasks to complete as many as possible during the given time frame, arrange your tasks in a grid formation, like a bingo card. The first player or team to fulfill a line of challenges will be declared the winner. This is a great variation of the game which is rather fast-paced and is suitable when you do not have a lot of time.
Video scavenger hunt
Do you think that a photo scavenger hunt is too easy? Then make it even harder by turning it into a video scavenger hunt instead! Obviously, the tasks must now be designed with videos in mind. For example, instead of just asking the participants to take a video of someone in a red dress, you can ask them to propose to a stranger in a red dress.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you will probably need to introduce some rules if you are going to organize a video scavenger hunt. For example, you might want to limit the duration of the video submitted. Otherwise, you might end up spending a lot of time viewing long videos which might end up being rather boring.
Apps to help organize a photo scavenger hunt
There’s an app for everything nowadays and it is no exception for photo scavenger hunts. In fact, type in “photo scavenger hunt” in your phone and you will find many results. Here are some apps that you might want to check out if you are organizing a photo scavenger hunt:
- Photo Scavenger Hunt
Let us know how your photo scavenger hunt went and we would love to hear from you! Please post your comments below.