Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting

Old Elbe Dump / 2013

Old Elbe Dump / 2013

 
The Map / 2011

The Map / 2011

 
Silver / 2011

Silver / 2011

 
The Treasure Hunter / 2010

The Treasure Hunter / 2010

 
Dump Digging / 2009

Dump Digging / 2009

 
The Find / 2011

The Find / 2011

 
Metal Detecting, Skagit Valley / 2013

Metal Detecting, Skagit Valley / 2013

 
Magic Tree / 2009

Magic Tree / 2009

 
Rubble / 2014

Rubble / 2014

 
Buick Electra / 2009

Buick Electra / 2009

 
Spade / 2008

Spade / 2008

 
Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer's Gang / 2011

 
First Look / 2011

First Look / 2011

 
A Hunt on Overlook Mountain / 2010

A Hunt on Overlook Mountain / 2010

 
Smoke Break / 2011

Smoke Break / 2011

 
Underneath the House / 2015

Underneath the House / 2015

 
Dump Dolls / 2011

Dump Dolls / 2011

 
Sorting Change / 2009

Sorting Change / 2009

 
Ephemera / 2010

Ephemera / 2010

 
Wrecking Yard / 2012

Wrecking Yard / 2012

 
Treasure Trove / 2010

Treasure Trove / 2010

 
Forgotten Toys / 2010

Forgotten Toys / 2010

 
I Got Revenge / 2011

I Got Revenge / 2011

 
Dead Horse Bay / 2011

Dead Horse Bay / 2011

 
Loot / 2011

Loot / 2011

 
High Tide / 2009

High Tide / 2009

 
Huck

Huck's Hat / 2009

 
Lost Boy / 2014

Lost Boy / 2014

 
Cowboys and Indians / 2011

Cowboys and Indians / 2011

 
Gold Hunt, Vashon Island / 2011

Gold Hunt, Vashon Island / 2011

 
Humpty Dumpty / 2010

Humpty Dumpty / 2010

 
Construction Site / 2015

Construction Site / 2015

 
Along the Duwamish River / 2013

Along the Duwamish River / 2013

 
Parade / 2011

Parade / 2011

 
Heading Home / 2010

Heading Home / 2010

 
Old Dump / 2013

Old Dump / 2013

 
Top of the Pile / 2013

Top of the Pile / 2013

 

Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting

“There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”

-Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Riley grew up in rural eastern Washington. As a child he read Mark Twain’s stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and decided he wanted to be like those mythical boys. He wanted a life full of treasure and adventure. Riley got his first metal detector when he was eleven and to this day he continues to seek treasure in the dirt, in sandy beaches or even looking through a handful of change for wheat pennies and real silver. In my project, Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting, I have been following Riley out on his hunts and photographing the objects he collects. I explore the line between documentary and fantasy as I look at the objects he finds, what drives him to continue and the mythology and history of the treasure hunting persona.

In Scavenger I don’t try to reveal Riley’s essence as a traditional portrait would, but build upon it to create a more complicated presence. I express my romantic view of his life and his treasure hunting obsession and choose not to show his daily activities outside of that. By only showing one side of his personality I create a larger than life character. I photograph him in Twain’s spirit, as a mythical adventurer, like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

As a photographer my search for the perfect image is not that different from Riley’s search for treasure. We are both driven by the thrill of the hunt and possibilities of what we will discover.