Now that we’ve gone through all the equipment necessary for a successful paranormal investigation, it’s time to go through a breakdown of what a typical investigation may be like. It’s good to get an idea of what you may encounter, some routine scenarios, and any other supplies you may need if anything goes wrong.
First of all, forget everything you’ve ever seen on TV or in movies about ghost-hunting. Yes, even the Scooby-Doo cartoons. Accurate portrayals of what happens on a typical investigation are rare in those over-hyped, glamourized versions. It is very rare that you encounter anything on your first try, or your first one hundred tries. If you’re planning on being a serious paranormal investigator, you have to love the searching and researching parts more than the possibility of gleaning any actual results since your job will mostly consist on investigating and then sorting through hours of video and audio, thousands of pictures, and pages of notes.
Do you work better alone? I know plenty of people who do and they prefer working solo, but you might want to consider hiring some other PIs or even recruiting a few close friends. You want extra eyes and ears at the site to record, see, and document anything you can’t catch. There’s normally a lot of ground to cover and a large area to explore. The more people combing the area, the more thorough the investigation will be. Not only that, but those extra brains will come in handy when the time comes to go through all the data. You’ll want others there to ensure everything is recorded correctly and, in some cases, one member of the group may be able to see something that no one else can.
If you plan on recruiting your friends, make sure they know this isn’t a joke or a chance to film their own found-footage film. Make sure they are people you trust and know well. You’ll be spending a lot of quality time together. On the other hand, if you’re hiring fellow PIs, make sure to do a thorough background check as well as put them through an interview (or two) just to be sure you can trust them and work with them.
Now that you’ve hired your own personal Mystery Inc. gang or you’ve decided to go at it alone, it’s time to investigate the paranormal.
First, ask permission. If the location is a residential area that is currently being lived in, ask permission to investigate on their property. If the location is abandoned or deserted, you still need to ask permission. It may be blocked off to the public for a reason; it could be condemned or in poor shape. The last thing you need is to go barging in on a property that could collapse on you.
After you’ve obtained the proper authorization to be on the property, document everything for about a week or two before you go into the actual paranormal investigation. You’ll need to observe the area long enough to get an idea of any natural causes, weather patterns, and so on. Anything that may affect the equipment you’ll use on your investigation needs to be accounted for before then.
“Natural causes” are anything that can show up later that were actually just leaky pipes or the air ventilation system. Check into the plumbing, electricity, and cases of mold. Electric hot spots can create what’s called a “fear cage” where the area is so concentrated with electricity that it can be misinterpreted as fear or paranoia. Mold or any other toxic substance can cause hallucinations or strange feelings that can be misidentified as something supernatural.
You’ll also need to look into the area’s history. Not every location will be built on an Indian graveyard, but it helps to know how long the building’s been there as well as what was there before. Legends can aid in boosting the paranormal nature of a location, but try to only search for the facts. Take legends with a grain of salt as they can become misconstrued throughout the years and can be full of half-truths.
If you want to work alone, make sure you take a few people to the location with you. Not only will you feel safer and have their protection, they can act as witnesses if you do happen to have an encounter.
Get all the equipment you feel will be beneficial to your investigations. Learn how to use it and learn how to take care of it. When it comes to equipment, test, test, and test again. The last thing you’d want is to buy this expensive piece of equipment, read up on how to use it, and then find that you actually have a faulty piece of equipment or that it needs batteries. Those situations can be avoided if you do your research, buy plenty of extra batteries, and get comfortable with the equipment beforehand.
With a team of people, it’s best to divide and conquer. Assign various tasks to members of your team, so every piece of equipment is covered. Have one person take pictures, another monitor the EMF meter, thermometers, someone should be monitoring the video camera, and someone should be taking notes constantly. Before recording begins, make sure to announce so everyone knows to stay quiet. Start the recording with a question and then wait for some kind of response. If a noise of natural causes occur, make sure to announce that after it occurs on the recording.
To aid with video recording, bring along a tripod so you avoid any “shaky-cam” motion. Record for a long period of time and take multiple pictures of the same area.
After the investigation is over, it’s time to examine and sift through all data that was recorded. This could take days or weeks, and it’s important to be thorough. Look at everything critically and skeptically. Be careful not to assume anything is paranormal. Only after you rule out any and all natural causes can you begin to speculate as to what is paranormal and what is not.