What it’s like to be a videographer for rich people’s travels

  • Ian Agrimis is the founder of photography and video company Capture Unlimited.
  • Her job, with a little help, is to follow clients on trips and create home videos.
  • He has to stay unnoticed and does activities like cliff jumping before the customers do it to get shot.

Ian Agrimis, 29, stumbled upon setting up his business, Unlimited Capture, while working for GoPro on its human flight team – its content arm focused on creating videos about athletes who used wingsuits, parachuted or did base jumps. He stayed there for two years, he told Insider, before he and his entire team were fired.

When Kevin Jackson, the owner of a California-based luxury tour operator EXP Trips and a family friend, asked him if he knew of a videographer who could accompany private clients on an adventure trip to blackberry farmin Tennessee, Agrimis threw his hat in the ring – and thus began his career following the 1% around the globe and documenting their adventures.

His job today is both grueling and glamorous, and a working day typically lasts around 16 hours when he’s on the road. Agrimis and his team of up to four people (he’s the only one full-time, but regularly hires contractors like extra videographers) capture every moment of a wealthy man’s journey so the client doesn’t have to. TO DO. His company charges between $10,000 and $60,000 per assignment. He made $240,000 in revenue last year, according to documents reviewed by Insider.

A man climbing a cliff with a camera

Agrimis hanging from a cliff near Lake Powell, Utah.

Keith White

“Our mission is in our name: we can capture anything, without limits. Extreme heat or cold? Scuba diving? Fast helicopters and skydiving with your family or your crazy buddies? We capture it in a professional way that makes you feel like a movie star,” he said.

He added that he had to walk a tightrope. “We don’t want to interfere with the customer experience while capturing it in an immersive way. I want customers to look back at the footage and have no memory of me being there at the time,” he said. declared. “Sometimes blending in means joining the dance circle, other times it means standing 100 feet back with a zoom or a GoPro pre-planted in a tree or on a rock.”

Here is a glimpse of his daily life at work.

He travels light with a small team and simple equipment – and for good reason.

A man taking a selfie on rocks

Agrimis atop the Mayan ruins of Caracol in Belize.

Ian Agrimis

Most Agrimis missions go through tour operators like EXP Journeys or Cookson Adventures based in London, who both specialize in bespoke adventures, he said. He has also been hired directly by travel agents and families. “They might go off with a few buddies to buy a hotel in Montana — much simpler and not as high as other trips, and say, ‘Can you come over and capture it all? ‘” Agrimis said.

It’s almost entirely a word-of-mouth business, he added. “With concerns about content privacy, I cannot display the finished product publicly or send it without guest permission,” he said.

He keeps a tight-knit team on hand, he said, often pairing up with a photographer while he focuses on video. That way, he added, it’s more discreet and less likely to stress out customers. “You don’t interfere with the experience itself, and logistically it’s easier. The content creator has to be moved the same way as the customers. I’ve done helicopter trips with a dedicated helicopter to the media team. you shoot customers in theirs otherwise?” he said.

A man kneeling next to an elephant outdoors

Agrimis next to an elephant in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Ian Agrimis

Its material transport is also surprisingly simple: a few Sony Alpha 7S III mirrorless cameras, which are compact, capable, and relatively inexpensive to replace if one gets flooded while scuba diving (it carries most gear in a pelican hard case, which is water resistant). Agrimis said he also remains loyal to his former employer, using multiple GoPros. “I place them in areas where I know guests will be or move around, and it allows me to be in two places at once,” he said. “Any activity that customers do? I have to do it with a camera in my hand.”

On each trip, he will abseil, raft and cliff jump before anyone else

A man scuba diving

Agrimis diving in Belize.

Ian Agrimis

To achieve the ideal shot, Agrimis must participate in everything the group does. For example, on a trip to the Caribbean he documented last November, he had to descend through a canyon by jumping off cliffs, rappelling, sliding through rock formations and swimming in a creek. “It was the first time I did it,” he said. “I had to rappel down hanging from the cliff, but only holding the rope with one hand.”

In fact, Agrimis said he was always the first to try each new leg of this expedition because he had to be ahead of the group, ready to shoot guests as they swam, jumped or climbed. “I would jump off the cliff, hold my Pelican case and swim with one hand to shore, then open it up so that when the customer is ready to jump, I roll,” he said. .

Some of his assignments are more glamorous than others, like a surprise 50th birthday party in the Dominican Republic that he was hired to document. The client’s partner had acquired the five-star resort Amanera as a surprise and planned a day trip across the country by helicopter. Agrimis said he sat in one of six helicopters as they took off from the fairway in front of the hotel and continued taxiing as the group landed for a tour of the national park, kayaked through some caves and did a pit stop at Dudu Lagoona cenote the group had purchased for swimming.

Even on a 5-star, 6-figure vacation, things can go wrong

A man in a helicopter with a camera

Agrimis shooting in the Caribbean.

Zac Zlatic

There are sometimes hiccups during the trips that Agrimis is responsible for documenting. He said he once went on a three-day rafting trip to Moab, Utah, for a small group of friends who had arranged to set up a private camp on the Colorado River, where they spent a night before taking boats across cataract canyon. For the following night, Agrimis said, they were to fly about 25 minutes to the nearby luxury hotel, Amangiri, on Lake Powell – until there was a problem with one of the jumpers. expected puddles.

“One of the group members, a financier, had a personal pilot who organizes all of his private trips due to his life insurance policy,” Agrimis said. “It prohibits him from flying on an aircraft that is more than 15 years old, with less than two engines and two pilots. Even when he flies in a helicopter, there must be backup.” No aircraft nearby met those conditions, he added, so there was a scramble by satellite phone to try and find a replacement. A plane that would satisfy his insurance was eventually found, but it would cost $40,000, about 10 times the typical charter price. “It was approved in about four seconds. I’ve never seen anyone spend so much money with so little thought about how overpriced something is,” Agrimis said.

He was also once hired to film a group of men with a very particular request. “I saw the email, and there were two sentences. They said to their tour operator, ‘We’d like to do ‘Westworld’ and the budget is unlimited. See you in July,'” he said. he declares. Fast forward to July, and Agrimis shot them down as they arrived in a private plane at Magee Homestead in Saratoga, Wyoming. The entire crew, including Agrimis, wore period costumes and the group was armed with old-fashioned pistols.

A man taking a selfie on a yacht

Agrimis aboard a yacht in the Caribbean.

Ian Agrimis

“The plane lands at the private airport and the door opens, and some girls come out who weren’t on the guest list, then a few more, and a few more. We realized pretty quickly that these guys didn’t want to spare any detail of ‘Westworld,'” Agrimis said. It was only at the end of this four-day trip that a problem arose. “One of the guests said to me, just as they were leaving, ‘We can’t wait to see the video, but please make sure none of the girls are in it. “”Agrimis managed to trim his footage, but admitted the final cut was a much shorter film than he typically delivers.

The images he shoots are not for social media or public consumption

A man looks at a computer in a dark room

Agrimis mounts images.

Aaron Weiss

After spending 16 to 18 hours shooting on location, he will upload and save his footage, he said, but will not edit them until he returns home. The final cut usually lasts between eight and 20 minutes. He added that these videos are not for Reels or social media of any kind.

“It’s one of the great mysteries of my work,” Agrimis said. “These videos are never made public – the people I shoot them for want them locked up.” When someone occasionally requests a still image or a shorter video, he added, it will only be posted to a private Instagram account. “Most people probably watch the video once, which can be a little difficult after spending weeks on masterful content.”

He hopes, however, that an assignment this summer could cause a stir with the general public: a full-scale film intended to turn the client into a real James Bond, with a budget for visual effects and even a classic Bond-style title sequence. .

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