By Pete Rosos

You may know Pete Rosos as 2812 Photography; you will almost certainly have seen many of his photographs on Berkeleyside, including his wonderful Snapshot series, in which he takes the pulse of some of the most interesting, not necessarily high-profile, people of Berkeley, accompanied by gorgeous photographic portraits. Last weekend, Rosos embarked on an interesting Berkeley scavenger hunt orchestrated by Looking Glass Photo. He picks up the story:

It didn’t come as much surprise to me when my daughter of 10 started jumping for joy after I asked her whether or not she’d like to join me on a little scavenger hunt. What did raise my eyebrows was her reaction when I told her that it was a photo scavenger hunt. She has never really expressed much of an interest in photography before but, after explaining the details of the hunt, she was bounding across the house to ask her mother if she could borrow her digital camera. I had found out just a couple of days before that Looking Glass Photo was putting together the hunt to help drum up attention for Small Business Saturday.

The idea was intriguing to me for several reasons. First off, it was a chance to do something I love doing anyway, namely on-the-fly, in-the-moment, and with-no-idea-how-the-results-would-pan-out photography. Secondly, there was the lure of several chances at possibly winning a free camera. I know it sounds selfish and opportunistic, but I’d be lying if I said that one of my few materialistic vices didn’t play a role in wanting to take part. Lastly, and sticking with the frankness, it was a great chance to break the usual monotony involved in trying to figure out what to do with kids on a five-day weekend.

The rules of the hunt were fairly simple:

  • You needed to find and photograph at least 20 of the 50 Scavenger Hunt items on the list.
  • No single business could be used more than twice.
  • No item on the list could be used more than once.
  • You must have pictures from at least 10 different small businesses of your choosing.

Lastly, the hunt started at 10 a.m. and you had to be back by 5 p.m. with your images and a filled-out checklist if you wanted to have your name included in the drawing for a free camera.

When I pulled up to the store shortly before 10 a.m. I was greeted with the sight of a procession of about 15 digitally-armed-to-the-teeth image stalkers eagerly awaiting a copy list of their soon-to-be prey. Once the metaphorical horn sounded and we all got our packets, we could finally get an idea of what we had in front of us. The list of items ran the gamut from the esoteric (the “best least-known piece of public art”), to the simplistic (“something big and pink”), to the very specific (“a shop you’ve never been to before that specializes in one thing only”), to the curious (“portrait of a working professional with with no shoes on”).

My daughter and I played a scattershot game of ping pong with the Berkeley small business landscape hitting everything from College Avenue, Telegraph Avenue, the strip of local shops on University Avenue around Milvia, down to West Berkeley. With each item on the list we had an idea as to the where’s and how’s. That said, it wasn’t as easy as it might sound, and by the time we were finished shooting, editing, and cataloguing our catch back at the Looking Glass, it was 4:30 p.m.

At the end of the day any notion of winning a free camera seemed trivial by comparison to what we had done. We knocked out 25 of the 50 items and managed to arouse the curiosity of more than a few small business owners and other locals. After turning in my list, I was left with two stark impressions. First there was the affirmation as to how eclectic Berkeley really is. Yet, unlike previous experiences, this time it was through the prism of touring its small business community in the space of a day. Second was the sheer pleasure of seeing peoples’ reactions once we explained what it was we were doing, and their willingness to participate.

Looking Glass Photo, a store whose owners and employees are worth their weight in gold, is onto something in its effort to promote small businesses. It’s found a very clever way of getting people to see Berkeley’s small businesses through a different lens. They plan on doing it again next year. So mark your 2013 calendars and give it a shot. You’ll be glad you did.

Other images taken from the scavenger hunt can be seen on Looking Glass Photo’s Community Gallery.

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