Investigations 101

Basic equipment needed for an investigation:

  • Walkie-talkies (ideally with ear pieces) DOUBLE CHECK THESE TO INFINITY. Walkie problems are common and cause a lot of anxiety in the field. You need to test them at range, right before you go out. The terrain makes a difference in their range so always err on the safe side and ALWAYS do a walkie check with your driver from their parking spot to ensure theyre not too far away.)
  • Flashlights (make sure you have the selection of light strengths you want. If they flicker it may distort your photos.)
  • Rubber boots
  • Bio-security gear (suit, gloves, boot covers)
  • Good camera (phone camera will work, ideally would like ability to shoot 4k video)
    (You can get a Gimbal stabilizer which allows you to move freely with shoot one-handed, while getting smooth video)

Team Roles (some can be filled by the same individual)

  • Team lead
    On-camera person
    *Team lead assistant/second person
  • On-site Lookout
  • Driver

General Tips

Be careful walking in the dark because terrain can be uneven in these kinds of areas and there are shit lagoons you could fall into. Become familiar with the area using satellite imagery prior to the investigation to ensure you don’t end up in the shit lagoon.

Asymmetry of Information - it feels like you’re really exposed and that everything you’re doing is visible and obvious, but remember they’re not looking for you. It is easy to freak out after seeing headlights from a car when you’re in a dark field - you are SUPER aware of them but they probably couldn’t see you even if they tried. Keep this in mind while on investigations. It is a very helpful thing to remind yourself to stay calm in a stressful situation.

The best thing to do if you’re worried about your exposure is LAY DOWN flat on the ground.

If you anyone approaches you while you’re outside of the building, use the “we’re looking for our dog” excuse and quickly walk away to avoid further conversation.

If you’re getting footage on your phone, don’t use flash. Flash will give the animals you are recording red eyes. Use your flashlight as a spotlight instead of using flash.

Try to get down on the same level as the animals you are taking photos/videos of. Photos look better when they’re taken from their eye level.

DON’T BRING YOUR ID - there have been a few instances of investigators accidentally leaving their ID on-site.

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Another good thing to say if you run into someone is just “thank you, we’re leaving now.” Don’t stick around to explain yourself and offer some convoluted excuse. Just say it calmly and with confidence and walk away.

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Remember that people you could encounter at a facility may be more scared of you than you are of them. They don’t know who you are or what your intentions are. Use the element of surprise to your advantage if you need to for getting away. It takes people new to a situation a few seconds to process what’s happening.