Ok, I am drowning in the emails asking questions like:
“Grant, how do I get started in the field of paranormal research?”
“I am starting a group, man. You got any tips?”
“I toootally wanna b a ghost hunter. If U can tell me were 2 go 2 school 2 learn dat, dat wood be gr8.”
So, I hope you will forgive me for not being able to take the time to reply to them all. I try to make time to help but the time-making skill is rapidly escaping me. Therefore, I must kill 326,456 birds with one preverbial stone.
Here’s the stone:
1. A career?
Paranormal investigation doesn’t pay squat. In fact it costs a lot. Equipment, gas, tapes, batteries, cool jackets with your group name on them, etc. So, don’t expect to get into the field to get rich.
If you want to take up paranormal investigation as a hobby, then go to school for something that can pay the bills, AND be of use in the paranormal research field. Forensic science, psychology, or construction are some good ones, along with maybe some computer, film, or, heck, even plumbing knowledge will give you the skills that will both, put food on the table, and make you valuable to your group.
2. Grave Stomping
Sure it seems logical that ghosts would be found in graveyards…. I guess… but often people make the mistake of thinking that if a lot of people died in a location that there HAS to be ghosts. While that CAN be true it isn’t a fact. Here’s a question: How many people do you know that have actually died in a graveyard? Not many. Most people are dead for around 3 days to a week before they are buried.
3. Stay Legal
Most of the time, it is illegal for anyone to be in a cemetery after dark. And just because no one lives or works in a building, doesn’t mean it is fair game for investigating. If you get caught trespassing, your time as a respectable paranormal investigator is over.
4. How Do I Start?
Since graveyards are out, then how the heck do you get started? The best way is to find a friend or a relative of someone in your group that feels they might have a haunting. This is ideal because you can practice your techniques without having to worry about screwing up and upsetting a client. If this scenario is not available to you, then find another group in your area and see if they are willing to have you shadow them on a few investigations. If you do this, remember that it is THEIR case and you are just a fly on the wall. If THAT is not available then there are often public places that are known to be haunted where trespassing is not an issue. Also, there are some places that will allow you to take a “ghost tour” for a nominal fee. This is the last option though, as you often have to weed through a lot of oobie-doobie spookie nonsense, but at least you get the chance to try out your equipment.
5. Equipment? What Do I Need?
Don’t get blinded by the equipment you see us using on the show. All you really need to get started is a camcorder with nightshot or infrared. An additionl infrared illuminator that attaches to the top of the camera will help out greatly.
An audio recorder of any type will help too. Make sure that if you get an analog recorder (one that uses a tape) that you also purchase an external mic. Otherwise you’ll get some nasty noise from the gears in the machine.
What? No EMF detector? Nope, that can wait. EMF detectors don’t find ghosts. They find false positives. We scan areas that claim to produce spooky feelings with an EMF detector in order to find a legitimate electromagnetic field. Fields with a really high reading can produce effects in people that mimic paranormal activity. For instance, paranoia, dizziness, nausea, and that general creeped-out-I-don’t-wanna-go-in-there feeling.
Aaaaand no still camera? Camera’s are great and all, but claiming you have paranormal activity caught in one still photo is like reading one paragraph of a book and pretending you know the whole story. You just don’t know what led up to that picture being taken.
6. Pick Me!!
How do you get your name out there? Well, most importantly, by doing a friggin good job. If you are professional and down-to-earth your name will spread fast enough. Other than that, make a well thought out web site. One that is professional, not filled with bloody fonts, creepy music and flaming skulls flying at you. Think about it, if you were genuinely terrified in your home and you needed help, do you think you’d be comforted by a barrage of flaming skulls?
7. Salt, Lots of Salt
Don’t believe everything you hear. There is very little fact in this field. It is populated primarily with theories. Face it, you can’t recreate this stuff in a lab, yet. So, you have to study it when you can, and that is not often.
Therefore, there really aren’t any experts. There are a lot of people who will claim they are experts, but that is another story. We just can’t guarantee that there is one person who is doing it 100% correctly. In other words, gather information from where ever you can, filter through your own ideas and ideals, take the good and leave the bad. And take it all with, not a grain, but a huge friggin’ block of salt.
Well, there you have it. Some decent tips to get you started in the field of paranormal investigation. I hope they help you out.
Rock on, and please do everyone, who is already out there investigating, proud.