TOP 3 x 3 WITH AMIR ZAKERI
Amir Zakeri is one of the most original and interesting travel filmmakers in the world right now. At 22, he has already amassed a solid following on social media and is working all over the planet to create eye-catching videos you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.
It all began when Amir saw a Devin Supertramp clip on Youtube and thought “who is this guy filming these awesome videos travelling the world? I want to do that!”. Rather than pursuing his original goal of being a chiropractor is his home state of Kansas, Amir went out and bought a Canon T4i camera to pursue his new vision. He also fell in love with Maui on a post-high school graduation trip, so as soon as he turned 18, got a one-way ticket to Hawaii and has been based there ever since.
Initially, Amir made videos that emulated Devin Supertramp’s cinematic, upbeat style. However, things really took off when he found his own visual voice. Using a blend of inspiration from digital magician Zach King along with Sam Kolder’s fun transitions, Amir wove his own POV-style into something set apart from the rest of the travel videographers out there. That’s when more people took notice, more views started coming and more brands started asking him to work with them.
Now, thanks to his interesting approach, dedication and hard work, Amir earns a living as a full-time filmmaker.
We recently caught up with Amir to ask him about his top 3 places to visit as a travel vlogger, top 3 go-to items when on the road, and top 3 pieces of advice for aspiring creatives. Here is a top 3 x 3 with Amir Zakeri.
Where are your 3 favourite places to travel to and why?
For me that totally depends on what I’m doing and who I’m with. For example, Bali is a super hyped and loved place to go, but I felt like it was disappointing. So, it’s hard to pick actual destinations over memorable trips.
My favourite trip was my first adventure to the Philippines when I was 19. I got to meet the most amazing locals and travel with people there I met through instagram. It was a real awakening. I saw these kids out in these villages who had nothing, but were so happy. It was a big perspective change because you get caught up in this world of social media and thinking that it all matters. But really, if you’ve got food and running water you’re really lucky. It was a humbling experience and changed how I think about things now.
Second would be a trip to Alberta, Canada. It was my first time doing a winter film. My gosh, from Banff to Jasper the mountains were insane, they were all beautiful destinations, the whole crew was awesome, the hotels we stayed at were incredible. It was an unforgettable trip.
Last, if I had to pick a favourite location it would be French Polynesia. Tahiti is like Hawaii 50 years ago, something out of Moana. That’s the best way I can put it. There are the nicest, kindest people there I’ve ever met in my life. The Polynesians are so welcoming. I’ve been there 3 or 4 times now and am going back again next week. It’s amazing.
What are your 3 must-have things to have on hand when traveling (apart from your passport, laptop and camera gear)?
I’m actually pretty minimalistic. Most of my bags are camera gear. So I only take a couple of pairs of boardshorts and a couple of shirts, so simplistic. Unless I’m going somewhere cold. Just picking your clothes to where you’re going and keeping it small.
I also have this super mushroom elixir by MyCommunity, which is a nice organic supplement. It keeps me healthy. You just put it in water and it gives you what you need.
Last is my journal. I make travel diaries of everywhere I go, just journaling each day with ideas.
What are you best 3 pieces of advice for people looking to do something creative with their lives?
It’s probably the biggest cliche, but if you can see it in your mind you can hold it in your hands. I write down goals the first of everything single month. Career goals, film goals and personal goals. Every morning I wake up, I stare at that list and know exactly what I need to accomplish. When I started in Kansas with this dream, I had never traveled out of the country and I didn’t even have a camera. Everything seemed impossible. Breaking it down into achievable steps made a huge difference in getting there. So, write down what you want, make a vision board and start feeding your subconscious mind with the law of attraction. Make it specific and go in a straight line towards that.
Second you need to work hard, and have persistence and patience. I’m the youngest of eight, so have seen my older siblings become really successful working hard. That was a great example. The biggest lesson for me though has been learning patience and persistence. You’ll fail a hundred times before you get something right. Every time I’d get turned down or mess up I’d wanted to give up, but now I’ve learned to love that process and use it to get better.
Finally, for anyone honing an artistic craft – you have to be original. It’s hard to be secure with that. If it’s been done before you won’t be at the top. Obviously you can find inspiration in others, we all do, but try to put your own unique spin on things and people will really start to take notice. Otherwise, someone is just going to be doing the same thing better than you are.
Lastly, what’s your favorite travel pack?
By Tim Hawken
Tim Hawken is an Australian writer who enjoys surfing, Indian food and romantic midnight strolls to the beer fridge. He has clocked up visits to 23 countries on 5 continents (and counting). Find out more about his weird world by heading to his website, or following him on Instagram and Twitter.