If you’re anything like me, chances are you’ve taken a shortcut at least once in your life. And there are so many different kinds of shortcuts. Like…the alleyway I cut through to get to my apartment building sometimes. But I think my favorite type of shortcut is the desire path. Just like the one I’m walking on right now. Desire paths, also called desire lines or social trails, are naturally-made paths that occur when a large volume of foot traffic passes over the same area. It’s the result of scores of people deciding they didn’t want to waste time with the proper path. And I love the idea that enough people looked ahead at the path that was built for them and instead saw a better path for themselves, that they could create. The last time I made a crudely direct path to what I wanted, I entered a contest and ended up speaking on a panel at VidCon. Where, coincidentally, just a year earlier, I had gotten to see and talk to Justine Ezarik, who’s been one of my biggest inspirations since before I even started making videos. So when I saw iJustine’s video announcing her contest to attend Sony’s camera camp in Montana, I knew what I had to do. The rules to enter were simple: you could either write five hundred words on why you wanted to attend camp, or you could make a one minute video explaining why. And I mean, come on, who would choose to write an essay in order to apply to attend a camera workshop? So obviously, I made a video. [Reveille plays] Even though I trained as an editor and animator, I’ve always loved filming. From my first DSLR, to a film camera, to the sony a7sii that I use today, I’ve slowly but surely improved my knowledge and skills when it comes to camera equipment. It was my desire to make YouTube videos that pushed me to learn more about cameras and shooting. And in turn, that knowledge has earned me a professional position involving shooting, editing and animating. But I know there’s so much more to learn. Since I started watching YouTube, Justine and Jenna have been constant sources of inspiration for me, and there would be no bigger honor than to join them in Montana for the best learning opportunity of my life. Thanks for considering me, and I hope to see you at camp. And a few weeks later, I got an email telling me I was in. So, I packed my hiking boots, my hammock, and my camera gear, and booked a flight to Montana. I think that when it comes to YouTube especially, a lot of people are just looking for a shortcut to being successful. And some people might think, like I once did, that it’s really all about following the popular trends until the algorithm decides to bless you by sending people your way. But truthfully, following these trends often yield nothing special, because, let’s be honest, nobody wants to watch yet another slime video, or a back-to-school tutorial from a thirty-year-old. For a while, I was convinced that I needed a respectable number of subscribers before I could make videos about what I really wanted. I’ve wasted so much time chasing after algorithmic patterns, trying to make videos that were easier to churn out. But eventually, it got so tiring, and honestly, just embarrassing. I was following the path I thought I needed to, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I took a more direct route, and started to make the videos that I’d wanted to all along. And now I’m here. At Sony’s camera camp in Bigfork, Montana. So let’s see what I’ve gotten myself into. So I’m at my first camera camp class, which is a DJI class with the Ronin SC, which is perfect because I just got one myself, um, and I’m using it right now… So I’m excited to go…I think look at some animals and maybe horses? Not 100% sure. God, my whole video is gonna be about this dog. [Laughs] So I had to take my shoes off, because this puppy is adorable, but it’s also biting my shoelaces…. So I’ve taken a little bit of a break and I actually went to go check out some equipment, so right now I’m actually using the Sony RX0, and I was thinking I could test it out on some of the kayaks down there. [Drone buzzing] I’m out here on Flathead Lake, Justine and Jenna are behind me; Justine is droning from her canoe – or kayak, and yeah, it is so fucking beautiful here, I can’t believe it. Just got back from kayaking, and now I’m gonna have some lunch, also I’m wearing a very good fanny pack right now. And after lunch, I headed over to the stables for some horseback riding. So, I’m currently riding Lucky. It’s kind of a bumpy ride, as you can probably tell, but, I’m a fan. We’re friends, I think, now. Right? Yeah, we’re friends. Camera camp has come to an end, but I’m so proud of the path that I made to get here. And if given the chance to go down that same path next year, I’ll already know the way. The funny thing about desire paths is that sometimes, given enough people walking over them, they become established trails of their own. We either give them names, or pave them over, but eventually, they’re just another path to be followed. And that’s not a bad thing. We don’t have to look back, thinking that we struggled through the unknown terrain, bitter that everyone else now has an easy road. Instead, we can look forward, knowing we created a future for others. from our desire to do things differently.