Making of a Scavenger:  Stephen Maddox

           First of all let me make it known that I am not a photographer.  I very rarely take photos when I am not doing one of the hunts.  Maybe some photos on vacation but that is about it.  I do the hunt for the fun, for a way to be creative and for the people.  How about we start at the beginning.

            I first joined Google+ in the summer of 2011.  I had grown tired of Facebook and was looking for an alternative.  I happened to see an article about the new G+ and wrote the writer of the article to see if I could get one of her invites to join.  It worked and I began my journey.  After checking things out for a few weeks, I came upon a group of people trying to hold the longest Hangout session.  It was being streamed constantly and anyone could join in when one of the 10 spots was open.  I mostly just watched the Hangout but joined in several times.  Once we played Pictionary using a whiteboard program.  Another I talked with a woman about genealogy and another we talked about the old days of AOL and all the CD’s they would put in everything.  Sadly, the longest Hangout ended after 77 straight days and I was then bored and looking for something new.

            There was an Explore button at the top of G+ that I used to try and find something interesting.  That is when it happened.  I saw a post by Chrysta Rae asking people to sign up for a photography scavenger hunt that she was starting.   They had just done one that had 26 words in it and I saw some of the pictures and I had a phone with a camera on it so I said my first  “I’m in!”.   While waiting for it to start, I ended up having some fears about joining.  I am a big introvert when I don’t know anyone.  It had taken all my will to make myself join in on the Hangouts mentioned earlier and I was scared of how I would handle participating with 500 people.  The fears died down and I stayed in mostly because Chrysta was such a fun and enjoyable person. 

            The list came out with 10 words and I began my first hunt.  I lived in Sarasota, FL at the time so I went off in search of pictures.  I treated the hunt as strictly a scavenger hunt where you have to go out and find each word and take a picture of it.  I did this for a couple of hunts and then I had the word puppy as one of the words.  There were no dogs around and I didn’t want to go to the pet shop for a photo so I got creative.  I drew a picture of a puppy standing behind a fire hydrant with a stream of urine flowing to the edge of the paper.  I poured some orange juice on the tile floor to line up with the urine I drew in the picture to make it look like it flowed from the picture and on to the floor.  It was a very bad photo cause I was using my iPhone 4 at the time.

           That picture proves that it doesn’t have to be a good photo; it can be the idea that gets you noticed.  I got my first honorable mention with it from Alan Shapiro which I thought was awesome.  I then started using my creativity to make funny photos for every hunt.  I got many HAHAHAHAHAHAHA’s from Chrysta when she picked up my photos. 

            Each hunt I have tried to improve myself and try to do something new to push myself.  I eventually got my first “2nd place” photo for my FISH entry.

That round was good for me because I had honorable mentions too for plumber and stripes.

           I still continue to try new things and different styles although I prefer to use humor the most.  This last hunt with the 26 words ended up being my best so far, Two 1st place, two 2nd place and 9 honorable mentions.  You just have to keep at it.

           As you might be able to tell, I am now hooked on the hunt.  I have managed to have an entry for every category in every hunt, even if it is not very good.  I just love looking forward to the reveals of each category that way. 

            I began the hunt journey with just an iPhone.  I am now on my second camera, finally one with changeable lenses.  I used free software for editing called GIMP but now use Affinity Photo.  I have never used Photoshop in my life.  Who is this weird guy that is not a photographer and doesn’t use Photoshop?   

            One thing I would like to add.  If you have never gone to one of the meet ups, you have to make it a priority to do so.  It is so great to finally meet the people behind the name and photos.  I was very scared to go to the first one but after being there I almost cried when I left, it was such a fun time.  I have been to multiple ones since then. 

            So what do I do when not participating in the hunt?  Well, I do use my camera but not for photos.  For the past few months I have been posting videos on a YouTube channel I started.  It is called Backwards Land.  I film stuff and play it backwards.  It can look weird seeing things happen in reverse.  I dabble in programming using Unity and also I am beginning to learn how to use a 3d program called Blender.  Otherwise, I don’t do much beside work and sleep.

            Well that is how I became a Scavenger and I will never regret it.  Hope to hear more stories soon.

Happy Hunting everyone!