Today we’d like to introduce you to Dante Barger.
Hi Dante, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
The way that I got to where I am is all about taking risks and going out of my comfort zone. I went to school and graduated with a BFA in graphic design, and that’s not at all what I do today. I had the option of being a graphic designer for a company and that would provide me with a lot of consistency in life, but after my brief time as a graphic designer in corporate America, I quickly realized that it wasn’t as fulfilling as it was made out to be. The traditional “go to school, get a 9-5, be happy” mold wasn’t one that I fit into. It works for a lot of people and I’m happy about that, but I wanted something different out of my professional life.
Once I started creating YouTube content in college, that inspired me to pick up a camera – a new creative outlet. The more I dove into it, the more I wanted to learn how to operate and use a camera. This spilled into my post-college life, where I began buying my own equipment and studying films, movies, and other content creators. That curiosity alone has brought me to where I am today – a videographer and photographer that’s worked with brands and people that I would’ve never thought I’d work with. It hasn’t been an easy road and hasn’t been a linear one, but picking up a camera and paving my own path with it (which was a risk in itself) has proven to be the most influential decision I’ve ever made in my life. It’s presented me with opportunities that I used to dream of, and it’s elevated my happiness level through the roof.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Oof, I feel like no road is smooth unless it’s too good to be true! I’ve had many moments where I’ve truly wanted to give up and go back to what’s “safe,” which was the traditional life path that I thought would work. Being a freelancer full-time, there are many inconsistencies. Some weeks you get paid, others you don’t. Some weeks you eat steak, others you’re enjoying lots of ramen. Some weeks you’re on top of the world mentally, others you’re wondering if what you’re doing is the right thing. Some weeks you’re completely booked out with little time for rest, others you’ve got a handful of shoots and lots of free time. As soon as I became more comfortable with a “go with the flow” lifestyle with less structure than your typical job, everything became way more manageable!
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My role is unique because there are two big aspects of what I do: the influencer side and the photo/video side!
I am a local influencer here in St. Louis that creates YouTube videos around St. Louis. I’ve always had the mission of putting St. Louis on the map because most people discount us as a city because of our high crime rate. People overlook us for that reason alone. A few years ago, I started the “St. Louis Spotlight” series, which is all about putting a spotlight on the positive reasons to visit the city instead of the negative press that seems to hog all the time in the spotlight. Now, I create vlogs (video blogs) about life in the city and the surrounding areas and work with businesses, people, events, etc. It’s been so rewarding because I love this city and I’ve been labeled as the “St. Louis YouTuber” by so many people, it’s humbling.
On top of pointing a camera at myself, I point it at others in my video/photo business! I work on a variety of projects, ranging from music videos to portrait sessions. Each day is something different, and I enjoy bringing people’s ideas and visions to life. On top of capturing content, I also direct onset and edit footage – it really all depends on the day!
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I’ve learned just how important community is. We’ve seen so many people come together and help others in unique ways during this pandemic, as well as donate time/money/resources to help keep each other afloat.
As a personal example, I’m a huge gamer. During the beginning of the pandemic, I would live stream my friends and I playing Mario Kart on Instagram and YouTube because people would watch and comment and engage. I only did this because I wanted to help people feel less alone by letting them sit in on something that is associated with normalcy. Who doesn’t love playing Mario Kart or Mario Party with friends? It was not my traditional content whatsoever, but reading some of the comments from people made it all worth it.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.originaldante.net
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/originaldante
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/originaldanteyt
- Youtube: www.youtube.com/originaldante
Some of the photos of me were taken by my best friend, Luke Strege (his IG handle is @lukestrege).