Marko & Alex Ayling

The Vagabrothers, Marko and Alex Ayling, have spent the last few years building a successful YouTube channel featuring their travels to some of the world’s most exciting destinations while documenting what they encounter, as well as their own thoughts.

This year, the Vagabrothers ventured to Pushkar, in the center of India’s largest state: Rajasthan. There, Marko and Alex experienced the yearly Pushkar Camel Fair, and documented it in a 360º Virtual Reality video.

The Vagabrothers spoke with the Travel Video Awards about how they made the video, and how an ancient Inca treasure map got them into travel filmmaking.

How did you turn your passion for travel filmmaking into a career?

Vagabrothers: In 2010 I was a recent college graduate living in Spain teaching english. I always had the dream of being a travel television host, and through an interesting “heard it through the grapevine” twist of fate, was invited to join a documentary film expedition to the Llanganatis mountains in Ecuador to follow a 500+ year old treasure map in search of lost Inca gold. I was very excited to have the opportunity to be on camera, tell stories and develop my hosting credentials.  Unfortunately the documentary was never made. That taught me the important lesson that no one is going to do the work for you, if you want to follow your dreams, then you need to commit 100%.

My high school buddy had just gotten a job at GoPro, which was very new, and offered to get me a Hero 1 at cost. I bought that and started filming myself surfing and traveling on weekends in the Basque Country in Spain, then I’d come home and learn editing after work on the weekdays. It was all pretty basic at first, but I dedicated time to understanding my camera, editing software and filmmaking techniques in my free time. I then saved up and bought my first DSLR a Canon Rebel T3i, once again I had to relearn a new camera, it’s functions, etc.  I started vlogging, and joined forces with my brother who was working as a freelance travel writer. A few months later we stumbled upon a tweet about a 6 month all expenses paid travel film making contest called the “Biggest Baddest Bucket List” with a $50,000 cash prize. We made a short 3-minute film about San Sebastian, the city we were living in, and won the contest. The 6 month trip was a marathon at the pace of an all out sprint. It was crash course in travel filmmaking and social media, and upon completion, the company declared bankruptcy and didn’t pay us the full money promised. It was a lesson in the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.  We buckled down, launched our own youtube channel, and used the skills developed on the trip and footage we shot to create new videos for our own channel. That was over five years ago now.

How do you approach developing VR videos like Pushkar Camel? What is your go to equipment for shooting in VR?

VB: That shoot was unique.  We had been selected to participate in special Virtual Reality development program that Youtube created called the “VR Creator Lab”.   We had access to renting some of the best Virtual Reality cameras available and had a mentorship program with some of the industry’s leading VR gurus.   It was an eye-opening experience. VR is a difficult medium, the rules of thumb of tradition “framed” filmmaking do not apply. You essentially have to throw out a lot of the things you’ve learned and reimagine shots in 360 degrees. Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the wildest festivals in one of the most colorful and chaotic countries on earth, India. It was a serious challenge to shoot that film but in retrospect it was a wild adventure and we are super happy with how the final product came together.   We shot that video on the Odyssey Rig, 16 Go Pros arranged facing outwards on a circular housing unit, then each camera gets “stitched” together with the others in post-production, creating a 6-8K circular image. It’s an expensive and time-consuming procedure we’d only recommend if you’re its a very important project and you have a big budget to pull it off.   In my opinion, the best 360 camera available on the market that is accessible to the public now is the GoPro Fusion.

What are some issues you’ve run into on the road as a travel filmmaker?

VB: Travel is inherently chaotic and can be quite stressful if you’re not in the right mindset. Missing flights, trains or buses, or getting ripped off by hotels or rental car agencies. All these things happen in a certain capacity on every trip we take; it is all about how you react to them. Add creating a video or a series of videos into the mix and things can get heated quickly. We’ve had memory sticks corrupt after a long day of shooting and lose all the footage, or hard drives fail;  both of which teach the importance of double backing up your data and shooting on more than one camera. That being said, all in all I think we’ve been pretty lucky during our travels and haven’t had any catastrophic events or failures yet. Travel is a beautiful thing. Keeping that open mind and positive mentality, seeing the beauty in each moment, or the opportunity to learn in each failure, that’s what keeps me going.

What is some gear you can’t live without?

VB: My Sony Alpha Cameras.  I love my Sony Alpha A7RIII and the G Master 24-70mm f2.8 lens. I could get by and create almost 90% of the content I make with just that camera and lens. For sound just a simple shotgun microphone like the Sennheiser mke400. Also, I love flying my drone, I have been piloting now for nearly 4 years and recently upgraded to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and had the opportunity to fly it on a recent filmmaking adventure in Uzbekistan. I’m blown away by the quality. I’d say these pieces of equipment are my essentials.

How do you choose your next projects / travel locations?

VB: It really depends on seasons, interests, budgets, flights etc.   We tend to try to find places that are not super popular now but have the potential to be bigger destinations in the future. We try to keep a balance in respects to cities vs nature. There are a lot of factors and debates before we can make a decision on where we go next and why. We both have lots of places we want to visit in 2019, some of them one of us is more passionate about and vice versa. Hopefully we have time to visit them all. 

When you work with brands, how do you balance their aesthetic and sensibility with your own?

VB: We don’t work with brands unless the product is something we truly use and believe adds value for our lives and the lives of our audience. You won’t see us plugging products that don’t fit well with our brand. So in that respect we are actually quite selective when it comes to who we partner with and why.   Staying true to ourselves and our moral compass much more important than a paycheck.

Where haven’t you been that’s on the top of your must-see list?

VB: I’d really love to visit Patagonia and the Himalayas this year. I am really drawn to wild places. The more I travel and the more I see the impact of humanity and modern living on our planet, the more I value the places that are still wild, and the more I want to immerse myself in those places. I’m also really looking forward to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro this year.  I got into travel filmmaking in the adventure documentary world and I really want to get back to that this year.

What’s the best way to reach you if someone wants to work with you?

VB: Shoot us an email at and CC our manager Rana and her assistant Davis. They help us handle business inquiries so we can continue to travel, film and tell stories.   Their emails are rana@authenticm.comand

What advice would you give to an aspiring travel filmmaker?

VB: Don’t wait to go somewhere “exotic”.  Start by shooting videos in your hometown. Take time each day to practice and learn, use the resources that are available to you for free on Youtube and the internet. Don’t delay what you can do today until tomorrow.  Start creating, chances are it might not be great the first time around, but don’t let that discourage you. Everyone is a work in progress.