When Chad Hunt began photographing neighborhood children in their Halloween costumes, he had no idea the images would become an annual treat for the entire community.
For eight years leading up to the pandemic, Hunt decorated his home in an alien theme requested by his now 14-year-old daughter, Isadora. He welcomed neighbors and strangers alike to be photographed. As lines grew exponentially, Hunt hired teenagers to hand out candy.
Over nearly a decade, he captured more than 350 children from Maplewood and neighboring towns, gifting the portraits to parents and making them available on his website and at the Able Baker in Maplewood village.
“What I love about the project is that you can see the same kids grow up,” Hunt says.
It also functions as a time capsule capturing the cultural icons of the year, like his own daughter dressing up as Eleven from the extraterrestrial-themed Stranger Things.
Hunt has inadvertently made a career, in part, by capturing youth, whether for lighthearted holidays like Halloween or during a dangerous dispatch to Afghanistan.
Hunt says he felt pressure to grow up fast when deciding what to do after high school. Luckily, he received a scholarship to a local arts college, which allowed him to study photography.
“I feel like I’ve always sort of photographed kids,” he says, recalling shots such as a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy bumming a cigarette that he took while interning in the Big Apple or children savoring their summer ice cream that he captured while working at Style Weekly, a regional magazine based in Richmond, Virgina. “It’s just cool to see these little kids [dressed up] and try to capture their old soul, in a way.”
With the series on an indefinite hiatus due to the overwhelming demand and the pandemic, Hunt says he is hesitant to restart the project. But meeting kids that he photographed years ago may make him reconsider.
“It wouldn’t be the same. I’m not sure if it’s run its course,” he admits. “I might but I wouldn’t tell anyone, so I wouldn’t get the same crowd.”
Looks like locals will have to keep their eyes and ears open as spooky season sneaks up.Click here to leave a comment