Behind the Cover: Steve Jobs

Photograph by Norman Seeff (Background digitally removed.)
Photograph by Norman Seeff (Background digitally removed.)
An image of Steve Jobs in his living room in Woodside, Ca., February 1984.

I was commissioned to do a story about the young Apple team, and at the same time, a visual session with Steve Jobs. What was really remarkable was getting into the corporate offices. It was completely what I would call anti-corporate. The creative team was this large extended family—incredibly energized and enthusiastic. People seemed to relate to each other with a level of informality that was sort of extraordinary. Steve would walk in, and I would see him in the background like this benevolent father—the first thing I got from him was that he was not getting involved at all in the shoot. He was watching very intently to see what was going on but didn’t have a controlling hand in the thing.

We were just sitting, talking about creativity and everyday stuff in his living room. I was beginning to build a level of intimacy with him, and then he rushed off, and came back in and plopped down in that pose. He spontaneously sat down with a Macintosh in his lap. I got the shot the first time. We did do a few more shots later on, and he even did a few yoga poses—he lifted his leg and put it over his shoulder—and I just thought we were two guys hanging out, chatting away, and enjoying the relationship. It wasn’t like there was a conceptualization here—this was completely off the cuff, spontaneity that we never thought would become a magazine image.

Steve had a sense of humor and was very curious and appreciative of creativity in other people. I found him completely open and himself. I didn’t pick up any arrogance or superiority—he was just being himself, having a great time. It felt like, when we were hanging out, chatting in that lounge, that we were old time buddies, without any hierarchical relationship. As a photographer, I do give direction, but Steve was up for doing anything. We ended up lying on the ground, drinking beer and the images created themselves.

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