Pictures of Microphones in the Wild

An ode to badass audio producers and field reporters

I reached out to podcasters far and wide. My goal was to collect the most unique and interesting podcast photos I could find as a counterweight to the mountains of microphone stock photos that accompany online writing about podcasting.

I was delighted by how many podcasting “action shots” I received. Everyone knows producers and sound artists are underappreciated, but these images put their work into sharp focus. So, appropriately, this story is “an ode to badass audio producers and field reporters.”

Beyond highlighting the work, great photos can build audiences. I’ve become fans of several new shows just because of their intriguing shots. Podcasters take note! Use your favorites of these to guide your shot list in your upcoming productions. Even if you’re not a podcaster, these images will inspire new appreciation of the beauty of audio production.

To be clear, this article is not permission to use these images as stock photos, but if any photographers happen across it, we could use better stock photos for podcasting (hint hint).

Please enjoy and share with the next person who laments the lack of visual creativity in podcast media.

Ashley Ahearn

Photo credit: Louise Johns

Ashley Ahearn is a science and environment journalist living and reporting out of rural Washington State. She created the eight-part Grouse series and is currently working on a series about women ranchers.

Photo credit: Ashley Ahearn

Follow Ahearn’s Instagram for great behind-the-scenes images, like this shot of piggies happily giving some good audio.

Planet Money

Photo credit: Planet Money

This photo is from a delightful episode of Planet Money, where Nick Fountain and Robert Smith lead the listener through the lifecycle of a Christmas tree, from auction to hawking. Pictured here is Fountain attempting to get the right price for their investment.

Photo credit: Planet Money

What actually happens when we recycle? That’s what reporter Sarah Gonzalez seeks to find out in this episode of Planet Money. According to their Instagram page, Gonzalez is reporting from a recycling facility in Nogales, Arizona, where all that carefully sorted plastic and cardboard goes straight to the landfill.

Lauren Chooljian

Photo credit: Lauren Choolijian

Reporter Lauren Choolijian produced and co-hosted Stranglehold for New Hampshire public radio. Choolijian is pictured here doing a story about how fish are impacted by the changing water temperatures of Lake Michigan. She was glad to have captured this without ruining any equipment.

Sarah Allely

Photo credit: James Stuart

Sarah Allely recorded this swimming hole outing for Brain on Nature during the wrong season (winter). The narrative required it to be a hot spring day, but the mics didn’t notice the cold weather and she captured the squeals of delight she was looking for.

Dianne Ballon

Photo credit: Dianne Ballon

Sound artist Dianne Ballon is recording runoff from an ice cave she found on Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in Iceland during her 10-mile hike out.

Photo credit: Dianne Ballon

Ballon is recording here at Dark Hollow Falls during her artist-in-residency at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Joel Werner

Photo credit: Joel Werner

Joel Werner is a producer (Cosmic Vertigo, No Feeling is Final, and Sum of All Parts) who is recording a story here for Off Track on ABC RN. He traveled out to find Indigenous Australian cave art and recorded the interview in this vast cave.

Byrd Pinkerton

Photo credit: Dylan Scott

Before Unexplainable, Byrd Pinkerton worked on various other Vox shows. Here she is recording audio of the translation of an “absolutely rad doctor” (with the pink hair) on the east coast of Taiwan for an episode of The Impact.

Olivia Rosenman

Photo credit: Olivia Rosenman

Audio producer and journalist Olivia Rosenman is attempting to “record the ghost of Australia’s last outlaw in Rookwood Cemetery, the largest remaining operating cemetery from the Victorian era.”

Scrolls & Leaves

Photo credit: Gayathri Vaidyanathan

Mary-Rose Abraham and Gayathri Vaidyanathan are co-hosts of Scrolls & Leaves, a new world history podcast with an emphasis on 3D sound. This shot is of Nikhil Nagaraj capturing binaural field recordings near a lake in the middle of busy Bangalore, India.

Arielle Nissenblatt

Photo credit: Arielle Nissenblatt

Arielle Nissenblatt is the founder of Earbuds Podcast Collective and was the brains behind a meetup at Podcast Movement to gather podcasters together to create new stock images for themselves (let’s make this a thing). In this photo, Hayley Luckadoo and John Schuchman pose in front of a colorful background and laugh about some headphones.

Mariel Carr

Photo credit: Mariel Carr

Pictured here are producer Mariel Carr and co-host Alexis Pedrick at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, recording an episode of their excellent science history podcast Distillations.

Joni Deutsch

Photo credit: Daniel Coston for WFAE

Joni Deutsch is the podcast manager and host at WFAE (Charlotte NPR News Source) who taught a “Podcasting 101” to the local community in early 2020. I love the framing of this shot with the sign front and center and the blurry background of a bustling and inviting classroom.

Claire Caulfield

Photo credit: Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Claire Caulfield is a reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat and is a producer for OffShore. This shot is from a “farmer training course [she] attended at the University of Hawaii for Civil Beat’s agriculture podcast Hawaii Grown.”

Dr Rae Wynn-Grant

Photo credit: Dr Rae Wynn-Grant

Dr, Rae Wynn-Grant is a carnivore ecologist who has worked with National Geographic and hosts a new podcast from PBS’s Nature, called Going Wild with Dr Rae Wynn-Grant. She is pictured above holding telemetry equipment in Nevada, which is used to track tagged animals.

Photo credit: Provided by Dr Rae Wynn-Grant

This cute little lemur mother features prominently in episode two. She might have single handedly helped to save an entire rainforest. The story of her capture (and return) is exhilarating.

Podcast But Outside

Photo Credit: Podcast But Outside

Podcast But Outside is hosted by Andrew Michaan and Cole Hersch. The premise of their show is to grab strangers off the street and interview them as their podcast guests (and pay them a dollar). They travel to all sorts of locations, including the beach!

Tenijah Hamilton

Photo credit: Tasnia Malek

Tenijah Hamilton has a new passion for birding, and she is likely to infect you with her enthusiasm. She hosts Bring Birds Back, a podcast from BirdNote, that is all about how we can appreciate and save our feathered friends.

David Swanson

Photo credit: David Swanson

David Swanson is a podcast producer for Pacific Content and a freelance radio documentarian, featured here at the top of a volcano with Connor Good, a 17-year-old with autism on a mission to raise money. This article details how Swanson ensured the best possible audio to capture this story for his show Everyday Bravery.

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