Davis Narey is a Twin Cities-based videographer who grew up in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
As a child, Narey, like many kids, enjoyed playing sports and hanging out with his friends, but in a city with a population of just under 40,000, there was only so much adventure to be had.
“Summers in my hometown were all about sports. That was the main activity, but there was nothing too exciting going on there,” Narey says of the Milwaukee suburb.
To combat the monotony of his middle-class lifestyle, Narey and his friends spent their free time cruising around town, something Narey felt compelled to document.
“When I was younger, I would make videos of us scootering and skateboarding. Actually, I couldn’t skateboard, so I would just scooter,” Narey recalls with a humble laugh.
As Narey got into high school, his interests evolved, to the point where he would play golf in the warmer months and snowboard during the winter.
Narey never toted his camera around the golf course, but he did continue to hone his video skills by shooting snowboarding content.
In fact, Narey attributes much of his current love for filmmaking to that time in his life.
“I never did anything too creative, other than make snowboarding videos, but that is where my passion for making videos originated,” he says.
Narey’s creative endeavors kept him busy, but the now-freelance videographer also admits that he had to overcome several moments of adversity, which is why following graduation Narey decided to venture away from eastern Wisconsin and enroll at St. Thomas University in Minneapolis.
“I wanted to get away from home. I was very ready to leave,” Narey shares.
“Ideally, I would have gone further away to UNLV in Las Vegas or somewhere in California, but I ended up going to Minnesota because I got a good scholarship to St. Thomas.”
A marketing major, Narey’s flair for the cinematic followed him across state lines.
He says that in addition to cramming for exams and imbibing in Minneapolis’ rich art scene, his schedule was made more hectic by deciding to further invest in videography, a decision that not only brought in some extra cash, but also clued Narey in to what life as an entrepreneur was like.
“Going all in on videography came during college when I transitioned from making snowboarding videos to making videos for other people. The snowboarding videos were for myself and for my friends, but I felt I had learned enough to begin making videos for other people,” Narey explains.
“I had friends in college who owned small businesses, so I started off helping them with promo work. From there, I just wanted to keep learning and growing as a videographer.”
Having accrued a healthy chunk of cash from his side hustle, Narey slowly began to add to his arsenal of cameras and equipment, and once he saw the effect these new tools had, it wasn’t long before Narey was establishing himself as a capable and talented freelancer in Minneapolis.
“I knew I had something to offer and that if I kept pushing good things could happen,” Narey says.
These days, Narey supplements his videography income by also offering photography services to clients who are seeking to capture their wedding day, or simply update their profile pictures on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.
Narey says incorporating this skill into his repertoire makes him more appealing to a larger pool of clients, but he also stresses that for videographers to stand out in a competitive market like Minneapolis, they don’t need to have flashy business cards or large-scale Facebook ads.
Which is why Narey’s approach to creative work is much more straightforward.
“My style is to make my client look good,” he deadpans, his words laced with a conviction usually reserved for a seasoned cameraman.
“I help people by bringing a vision and a perspective to projects that other people don’t have.”
While there will be some who scoff at his simplistic approach, Narey insists that his creative license only extends so far, and that often his finished projects are a collaborative effort between him and his clients.
“When I take on a project, it’s not just me going rogue,” Narey says. “My clients and I always have preliminary conversations in order to determine a point of reference that we can work off of.”
At this juncture, Narey seems likely to continue his upward trajectory and further cement his name among the Twin Cities most talented videographers.
That being said, Narey is not in a rush to expand his operations.
“My goal is to continue building out my business and find a niche in something that I am either really passionate about, or in something that is financially stable,” he says.
At the same time, Narey also wants to evolve as an artist, to the point where he would no longer have to be responsible for every part of the production process and could instead focus exclusively on directing.
“As a freelancer, you wear a lot of hats. You work with lighting, sound, and cameras, and the reality is that you can’t be great at all of those things. You can be good, but if you’re doing it by yourself, there’s only so much you can do. In my case, directing most aligns with what I’m good at and where I can bring the most value to clients,” Narey remarks, before then explaining why tasks like cinematography and editing don’t mesh with his skill set.
“Cinematography is more of a technical job than a creative job. That reason alone is why I’m not as inclined to pursue that aspect of the creative process. As far as editing is concerned, I like doing it in order to bring projects together, but I can’t see myself being solely an editor.”
For a man who once used to draw inspiration from Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, there is no denying that Narey has already come a long way in his short time as a videographer.
Even though Narey isn’t Minneapolis’ foremost expert on how to build a videography business, much can still be gleaned from the young professional, who encourages the next wave of creators to take their entry into the business seriously.
“Make sure videography is something that you want to do full-time because things change when it becomes less of a hobby and more of a job,” Narey advises.
“I have found that I have lost some of the creativity that I used to have. Videography is more for fun when you’re doing it on the side, but once you turn it into a job it becomes a different animal.” QS
Watch this 4-minute clip of Davis Narey’s work:
Looking for a new book to read?
Pick up Quentin Super’s latest novel, The Long Road East, for $28.95!
Quentin Super is also a ghostwriter.
Curious about what exactly a ghostwriter does?
Watch this one-minute video for more information!