One of the most common questions "I get asked is: How did you get started in ghost hunting/paranormal investigation?" To which I reply "Mainly to impress my nerdy friends."
Then I laugh while they stare at me disapprovingly... But after I'm done amusing myself with bad humor they are surprised to hear that getting started is not all that hard. In fact several of our supporters are amature ghost hunters themselves, and send us evidence to look at for them!
Getting started is pretty easy. Find a place that interests you that you think might have some history. It's not that hard. America was founded on 250 years of uncensored, raw, violence. If you step into your back yard you can bet that Native Americans were probably forcefully removed from the area. Just do some research. The Internet is a wonderful tool, and since the invention of Google, even my grandparents are computer experts at this point.
If you really want to impress your friends, show them you know where library is at and crack open a book. Most library's will have a big section of the town history, genealogy records, and even old newspapers. They are truly amazing places (oh and sometimes they are haunted.) Be sure when your researching a location it's somewhere you can legally go.
Graveyards prohibit entrance after sunset without prior permission from the people who run it, and you should always be mindful of curfews and private property boundaries. Always get in touch with whoever owns a property before just wandering around at night. If you don't get flat out arrested, in the south it could get you shot.
After you have done some research and gathered up all the history and all the juicy rumors about how uncle Eddie saw a headless woman in the corner, it's time to check it out. Don't be fooled into thinking you have to do these investigations at night. For the most part the shows do it for effect. Yes, there are some advantages to filming in IR and UV spectrum; also businesses nearby are shut down, there's less noise, and typically nobody else around to disturb you. But, by no means does that mean there's nothing to capture during the day. Both of our best still shots were taken during daytime hours; and my best EVP ever was taken during a lunch break. You don't have to be a cat burglar to catch paranormal evidence, so skip out on the special equipment to get started and just grab yourself some everyday things.
These days everything you need can be condensed into one single piece of equipment. A smart phone. Technology has come a long way. Now I'm not saying that having different equipment for different jobs isn't helpful, but for a small upstart or a hobbiest all you need is a phone.
The modern day phone is a camera, video camera, flashlight, and audio recorder all in one. I'm not going to harp on how to take pictures, and how to properly use your audio app. Just set the sensitivity on that thing way up and get going. At this point you've seen the ghost hunting shows enough you know what to do. I will tell you how to get the most out of it though.
1.The EMF detector apps are horrible. Yes they work, up to a whole 3 inches. Half the time it's detecting it's own battery. Just don't even bother because you will be chasing yourself in circles.
2.Use a Geophone app. The sensitivity on your phone is amazing and you can get some reliable results by having a spirit tap on your phone or an object.
3.When taking pictures use the fast picture mode so you can snap multiple shots at one time quickly. You always want to take duplicates of all shots so if an anomaly shows up you have a frame of reference. This is very important later when debunking shadows and things caused by yourself.
What you are going to find out very fast on your first investigation is that you are going to get bored. After 30 minutes your going to feel like you have been investigating for an hour. Think about it; our videos are cut down to about ten to thirty minutes of footage of any interest. A typical investigation can be anywhere from 4 hours to 6 hours. If only ten minutes of that is worth putting online you have to realize that it's 5 and a half hours of us sitting around talking to ourselves. Because even when we do get EVPs, most of the time we don't hear it at the time. If you're on your own it's even worse. But stay vigilant, the payoff only comes upon review. Once you find that first EVP you'll be addicted like we are.
So in conclusion, you don't need much to get started. You already have everything you need right there in your pocket. When your done, hook up to your PC and start looking for evidence. In no time you will be hooked and decide it's time to buy your first video camera and IR light.