We were clear from quite early on that we wanted to involve photography in the event. It’s been used in investigations of hauntings since people started taking photographs, so it seemed fitting and I like photography. We also had a fun prop for a 1950s camera, which I use in another game system – Rockets, Ray Guns and Really Nice Tea.
Another reason for photography being part of the event is that a dark room is a cool set and we liked the idea of a player or players having to go and shut themselves in the dark for a period of time and being unable to leave the room so that they didn’t ruin their precious photographs.
We created a photographer character, Charlotte “Charlie” Foster, who had been invited to take pictures of the family gathering by Mr Godfrey, therefore giving an excuse for another character who was (apparently) not a member of the family. We gave her a series of guidelines on camera use. By chance another player turned up with an identical camera, so we used the same rules for him.
The cameras were iPhones in cases which looked like vintage cameras. The camera we gave out had the screen taped up as well, so that you had to use the viewfinder.
We hoped it would also give us a picture record of the event without us having to intrusively take pictures – we thought having a photographer who wasn’t a character with a camera taking snapshots of the game would ruin the atmosphere, so this was a good way of getting around that.
We initially planned to add ghostly special effects to the pictures with UV pens or paint, so that there would be something on there which only showed up when an item was used to reveal it. Unfortunately we had to scrap that idea when we discovered that the UV effects wrecked the ink used to print the photos.
In the end we decided to use Photoshop to add in a variety of ghosts in appropriate areas of the house (the ghosts all had certain locations they were tied to). We had some photographs already in the darkroom set showing ghosts, which had been left abandoned there by a psychic investigator character that was part of our backstory. These were interspersed with old family photographs and photographs of the house that we took whilst on a site walk.
So, on site, when players took pictures and decided to develop them they would head to our darkroom set. We took their camera away, downloaded the pictures, inserted ghosts into those it seemed applicable to, printed them and then returned the camera and the prints to them in the darkroom. Some pictures were deliberately blurred or made stranger to worry the characters.
In one case this lead to two characters who didn’t know each other very well (I don’t believe their players did either) sitting in a cold, quiet, red-lit room for just over an hour, making awkward conversation as I frantically Photoshopped. They were determined to stay in there to make sure no one was doctoring the prints when they were out of the room.
This is the information we gave to the photographers before the game started:
Photography – How it works
- We give you a 1950s film camera (an iPhone in a 50s shell).
- You can use it to take photographs throughout your time at Northmoor House.
- Unexpectedly, there will be an IC dark room at Northmoor available for your character’s use (but obviously you won’t know that until you find it out IC, it’s an unusual thing to find in a country house!).
- When you wish to develop photographs alert a ref and make your way to the dark room.
- After an appropriate period of time, you may leave the dark room, leaving your photographs to develop. This will mean leaving the camera behind until your photographs are ready.
- A member of staff will tell you when your photographs are developed.
- Please be aware that the failure rate of photography is high in the 1950s and not all the photographs that you take are guaranteed to come out.
- We are not restricting you to a certain number of reels of film, although film is expensive in 1954, so please consider how much your character might be able to afford.
- NB the bulb broke in your flash gun on the way here, so you will have to take photos using ambient light. It shouldn’t be a problem for you IC, since you’ve simply been engaged to take photos of the family in daylight on Christmas morning.
- If you run out of memory card space, or the phone battery runs out, you must develop your film and this will mean spending some time in the dark room + leaving your phone behind. If you wish to charge the phone please alert a ref.
Photographs From The Event
These photographs were taken using our photography system by the characters Charlie Foster or Howard Northmoor. Some of the photos may warrant closer study.