Why flash photography should not be used on paranormal investigations

10th May 2017. Photography, General, Stuff paranormal investigators need to know. 860 page views. 0 comments.

Reasons why I believe flash photography should not be allowed on paranormal investigations.

At the start of every investigation, I usually go up the front and make a bit of a speech. I love to talk so I am the obvious choice to take this job! I introduce our team, do a quick run through of what we are going to be doing and quickly just go through some general rules. Some are OH&S rules, some are rules at the request of the venue and others are general rules that apply to any sort of event. One of these rules is that flash photography is not allowed. While it is sometimes a request of the venue, it is a rule that we apply to every investigation that we do. Here are reasons why flash photography should not be used on an investigation.

It encourages people not to use their mobile phones

We actually request that people completely switch their mobile phones off so that it does not interfere with the equipment. If someone needs it on for possible emergencies or flicks it to aeroplane mode it is not big deal, as long as we are aware so we know how to interpret any readings on the equipment. No matter how many times we ask this, there is always one person that doesn’t turn it off and seems to think that we don’t know. Spoiler alert, we do know and everyone else does too. When you get an sms message with the phone in your pocket, we know what that noise is. The majority of people don’t bring digital cameras to investigations anymore. Smart phones have eliminated the need for simple digital cameras. Why would you carry a camera around when you can use your phone? By telling them not only to turn off their phone, but that they cannot use a flash to take photos, they have no need for their phone, and they are more likely to leave it off in their bag or pocket. They can take a photo without a flash, but they are not going to see anything so what is the point?

Dodgy Orb Photos

I have done a previous article: Understanding the different causes of orbs which goes into the technical side of why orbs appear in photos taken with a flash. In a nutshell the way the light bounces off dust and moisture particles, causes these little orbs of light in your photos. Quite often we are presented with some amazing photos from people who had taken a photo on an investigation. In most cases it was using a mobile phone with a flash. So far there hasn’t been one that we haven’t been able to debunk. We are not saying it to be mean if we tell you it isn’t paranormal, it is the truth. This just helps avoid that whole awkward conversation.

The venue does not allow it for preservation reasons

It is widely believed that flash photography can be harmful to art and wallpaper, causing it to fade. While one flash is seemingly harmless, if you are a large scale location and have hundreds of people through every day using the flash, over time it can cause it to fade. Sometimes this is more of an excuse to hide the fact that the venue itself doesn’t want photos taken at all. Some venues don’t want too many photos of their interior showing up online and they believe people won’t come and see it for themselves as they already know what it looks like. It is very important that if this is a rule of your venue, to respect this.


On an investigation, you are generally walking around in the dark. There are hazards everywhere. As someone responsible for your safety, the last thing I want is for you to turn around and have a bright light flashed in your face. It can be disorientating and you can lose your balance, bump into something, fall over, the list goes on. In a nutshell, it is for your own safety.

It is annoying for the rest of the group not using a camera

A common technique used on an investigation mainly to avoid the problem with OH&S is for the person taking the photos to shout ‘FLASH’ just before they take a photo. This can prepare the rest of the group and it also explains a sudden burst of light as well. This is all well and good if you are the person taking photos. Spare a moment to think of the rest of your group. Sitting there quietly trying to investigate while every few seconds you hear someone yelling ‘FLASH’ followed by a bright light. It can become quite frustrating after a few hours.

For all of the reasons above, I don’t allow flash photography on our investigations. If paranormal photography is something you want to dip your feet into, it is best to look at the option of converted cameras and you will avoid all of the above hassles. I want to give not only you, but the whole group the best experience we can. So next time you are ready to pack that digital camera, have a think about the above. You and the rest of the group may thank me later!

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