Jenny Riffle: Dead Horse Bay: Scavenger (detail)

Work / Photography

Photographs chronicle the adventures of a real-life treasure hunter

Riley wanted to be like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when he grew up; he wanted to hunt for treasure and go on adventures. Riley’s never forgotten the magical lure of finding hidden pennies and bottle tops, silver and scraps, and when scavenging he finds himself transformed into a mythical adventurer like a character in a tale by Mark Twain.

Photographed by Jenny Riffle in sun-dappled forests and wind-blown beaches, dressed in a military jacket and donning a fine selection of wood-logger caps and deer-hunter hats, Riley exists in a time suspended between Twain’s America and the modern day. Documentary and fantasy blur in Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting, just as Riley’s everyday life slips into the background as he picks up his metal detector.

If Riley and his hobby seem somewhat unreal, that’s the point. Jenny says: “In Scavenger 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.” Jenny documents a dream as much as she portrays a person.

In the words of Mark Twain: “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.”


Jenny Riffle: Wrecking Yard: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: A Hunt on Overlook Mountain: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: Heading Home: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: The Treasure Hunter: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: Sorting Change: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: Buick Electra: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: High Tide: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: I Got Revenge: Scavenger


Jenny Riffle: Treasure Trove: Scavenger