We recently caught-up with the kinetic, hyper-creative Dan Rubin at the outset of a week that would see him launch a Kickstarter and a Skillshare class, shoot in three different cities, and attend the unveiling of a certain smartphone in San Francisco. Here's an in-depth look at how he pulls it all together:
I have a friend named Paul, he was my Senior Product Designer when I was Creative Director at moo.com in London and one of my favourite people and designers. We occasionally swap stories about our travel schedules — we know very few people who are here, there, and everywhere as frequently as we are — the kind of casual conversations you can only have about common, shared experiences.
Recently, we were chatting about his move to the States this year (he now lives in San Francisco with his wife, Farah). Rather than fly, they opted to take the Queen Elizabeth 2: an ocean liner from another era; once a standard mode of travel, now the patient, unhurried way of crossing an ocean.
He remarked how both the method and slow pace made the journey interesting for him: though we both enjoy travel regardless of the purpose (and often enjoy the time we spend in airports, train stations, and other ‘human portals’ — they’re all petri dishes for product designers), an overseas flight is a regular commute; once an experience finds a regular, consistent place in the pattern of your life, when it becomes commonplace to pass through customs at a number of major airports in various countries and check into the third hotel or AirBnB in as many days, what can be an experience of a lifetime for many people becomes the equivalent of hopping on a bus to get across town.
The challenge, in a way, is how to keep this kind of travel interesting, so when ONA asked me to keep a journal of my movements last week (with my new black leather Prince Street in tow) — 7 days that would see me start in NYC, hop to San Francisco, and end up in London, juggling many projects along the way — I immediately agreed: quantifying an experience makes you appreciate it that much more, and keeping track of last week’s ’ordinary insanity’ made every detail that much more enjoyable for me.
I hope you enjoy following along — I certainly enjoyed keeping track of it all.
Pictured above: The leather Prince Street messenger
9.4.16, Sunday: East Village, New York City, USA
- 8:00am: Awake and jumped straight into cooking breakfast (3-egg omelette with cheese & sautéed tomato, avocado on an English muffin, Greek yoghurt with honey and granola). Coffee was of the French Press variety (beans purchased from Whole Foods the night before).
- Packed my bags and checked into a new AirBnB (in Bowery) for one night.
- Worked from WhyNot Coffee (Lower East Side) for the afternoon.
- Wandered around the West Village shooting some B&W film (Tri-X 400 / Nikon F100, 50mm/1.4) and my Leica Q before, during, and just after sunset.
- Dinner in the West Village (roasted cauliflower, grilled haloumi, steak and fries, one glass of Tawny Port) at Jack's Wife Freda.
- Finished the night with a glass of port on a rooftop with views of midtown before packing and getting a few hours’ sleep.
9.5.16, Monday: Travel day — NYC to San Francisco (3-hour time difference)
- 3:45am EST: Alarm goes off (ouch.)
- 4:15am: Grab an Uber to JFK (easier said than done at that hour: three drivers cancelled on me before I lucked out).
- 7:00am: Flight on American Airlines (Coach): JFK to SFO
- 10:30am PST: Greeted after baggage claim by the guy who would be my driver a few more times during the week.
- Check into The Bunkhouse (on O'Farrell St, near Union Square) for one night.
- Room wouldn’t be ready until 3pm so I left my bags and wandered the city with my Nikon F100 and black leather ONA Prince Street, stopping a few times to write email and do general ‘life admin’ at various cafés (including my recent SF favourite, Mazarine on Market St — home of the nicest coffee mugs I’ve ever encountered).
- 3:00pm: Checked into my room, showered to wash off the day of travel and city wandering, followed by email and various admin tasks.
- 5:00pm: Meet a local photographer found via Facebook to buy his Leica 35mm/2 Summicron-M lens for my Leica M6 (we chatted film and cameras for at least an hour).
- 7:00pm: Skype/Google Hangout/FaceTime with Craig Mod in Tokyo about the Kickstarter campaign we were launching that night for our new book, Koya Bound (we really did attempt all three services with little success; video chat still feels like it’s stuck in 2008).
- 8:00pm: Hit publish on Kickstarter! (Nothing broke)
- Spent the rest of the evening (until around midnight) messaging friends and family about the campaign to hopefully get some contributions before the public launch the following morning.
9.6.16, Tuesday: San Francisco
- 5:00am: Awake! Checked in with Craig (16 hours ahead in Tokyo) to find out our campaign had already hit $10,000 (1/3 of our goal) and we hadn't publicly promoted the campaign yet. Shocked, but in a great way.
- Showered, dressed, and went on the hunt for coffee and breakfast (found both nearby).
- Returned to my room and set about promoting the Kickstarter campaign on Twitter and Facebook, while also tweeting about my new Skillshare class (which also launched that morning).
- 10:00am: Had a quick call with Laura from Artifact Uprising about the promotional plan for said Skillshare class (which they sponsored). Return to manically checking Twitter and Facebook and refreshing the Kickstarter campaign dashboard.
- 11:00am: Pack up and check out of the room, move bags two blocks over to the Westin St Francis and check into a room on the 5th floor of one of their towers.
- Take my laptop (in the Prince Street) and Leica Q and get some Vitamin D (sun), work from cafes, repeat for the afternoon.
- 6:00pm: Back to the hotel to change for Apple-hosted press dinner.
- 7:00pm: Attended an Apple-hosted press dinner (for non-US media) in the hotel restaurant. Fantastic views of the city (through dirty windows, sadly).
- 10:00pm: Head to the hotel gym, ran 6k on the treadmill.
- 11:30pm: Attempt to sleep (memories of being 9 years old the night before Christmas).
9.7.16, Wednesday: San Francisco
- 6:30am: Alarm! Up, shower, dress, pack the Prince Street and head to breakfast.
- 8:15am: Bus to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for the Apple Event (!).
- 8:30am–9:30am: milling around outside (and then inside), everyone is taking selfies with their media badge and/or the Apple logo on the building (I skipped the selfies).
- 10:00am: APPLE EVENT OMG (so cool to be there — iPhone 7 Plus camera geekery, waterproof Apple Watch, Mario on iOS, Sia). The following few hours are a bit of a blur, though it included access to the media’s product demo area, and I acted as last-minute cameraman for Gizmodo’s Christina Warren as she gave her Facebook Live hands-on report.
- Visited Glass Key Photo (amazing shop!) and stayed until they closed. If you’re in or near San Francisco and love film cameras, go there and support them (they’re super nice and knowledgeable, too).
- 7:00pm: Head to Apple-hosted press dinner and eventually back to the hotel for an early-ish night.
9.8.16, Thursday: Travel day — San Fransisco to London, England (8-hour time difference)
- 7:00am: Alarm! Quickly get ready for a very long and full day.
- 8:15am: Car to Apple’s press briefing — I was under extreme NDA for this, and though the embargo has now lifted and I can talk at length about the iPhone 7 Plus (yes, I have it; yes, the camera is impressive; yes, I have the matte black and it’s the best black) I won’t say more about the briefing itself — but it was exceedingly cool.
- 10:00am: Met an old friend, Faruk Ateş for a late breakfast and overdue catch-up.
- 12:00pm: Pack, check-out, head to the airport.
- 1:30pm – 4:30pm: Work in SFO’s Virgin lounge until final boarding call — during this time, I watched Koya Bound’s Kickstarter campaign hit its goal in around 48 hours. Amazing.
- 5:40pm: Fly to London (First Class), work on various things for most of the flight, get maybe 3 hours of sleep due to excitement about all things.
Photo by: George Muncey
9.9.16, Friday: London
- 12:30pm GMT: Arrive at London Heathrow Airport.
- Late breakfast at Heathrow while catching up on email and social network chatter.
- 2:00pm: Pick up Alfa Romeo Giulietta at the airport for a road trip and shoot coming up the following week.
- Drive into and through London to The Classic Camera near the British Museum, to finally buy a Leicaflex SL to compliment my Leica M6 for street shooting (sadly they were out of compatible lenses).
- 5:00pm: Walk to the nearby Camera Cafe for a honey latte and to see the nearly-open Camera Museum (if you’re in London, check it out: it’s free and fun to see). This is one of my favourite spots in London, and one of the first London spots where I became a regular (back in 2009).
- 6:00pm: Drive south to Oval to stay with my good friends Jess and David and their new puppy, Teddy. Got some lovely Indian takeaway for dinner and caught up with them about the week’s events. Bedtime was somewhere between 12am – 2am.
Photos by: George Muncey
9.10.16, Saturday: London
- 11:30am: Wake up to a slightly grey, rainy day. Didn’t set an alarm, thankfully slept for at least 9 hours, possibly 10 (needed it).
- While messaging with George Muncey about our plans to film an episode of his YouTube series on film photography — Negative Feedback — the following week, he invited me to shoot B&W film with him for an episode they were filming that afternoon in the city. Quickly dressed, packed the Leicaflex SL into my Prince Street, found a camera shop in town with the correct Leica R lens in stock, and walked to the Underground station.
- 1:30pm: Met George in South London, waited for Louis to arrive, then dashed to Richard Caplan camera shop in Pall Mall to buy the lens just as they were closing for the day (phew).
- Walked to the Leica Store in Mayfair to get a strap for the camera, and load my first roll of Japan Camera Hunter StreetPan 400.
- Shot around the city for the next few hours until just after sunset, finishing our second rolls (Ilford HP5+, pushed) among the crowds at Piccadilly Circus, then back to South London for a debrief about the day’s filming.
- 10:30pm: Head back to Oval for the night.
- 11:30pm: Drop mic, pass out.