Steve Jobs Rejected One Photographer Then Gave the Replacement a Hard Time

Steve Jobs
Moshe Brakha’s iconic photo of Jobs with the first iMac in 1998.

Steve Jobs was the visionary founder and leader of Apple who could be poorly behaved — what his biographer calls “Bad Steve.” A new story reveals photographers found themselves on the receiving end of Bad Steve.

To mark 25 years since the launch of the iMac, journalist Steven Levy has penned a piece in Wired recalling the story of the iconic photo taken to mark the iMac G3’s arrival which reveals Jobs making life difficult for not one but two photographers.

Levy was working for Newsweek in 1998 who were being given an exclusive look at Apple’s new machine. But there was a problem — Jobs didn’t want the photographer Newsweek assigned to the job.

“Being Steve Jobs, he was very finicky about who would be taking his picture,” writes Levy. “He blew up when he learned the identity of the photographer Newsweek had assigned to shoot the behind-the-scenes images.”

What Was Jobs’ Beef With the Photographer?

Jobs returned to Apple in the late 1990s after being ousted from the company he had founded. In the intervening years, he founded another computing company called NeXT which had hired the same Newsweek photographer and Jobs didn’t like the work they had done.

“It was someone who, in Jobs’ mind, had done a less-than-stellar job at a photo shoot years before for NeXT, the company he founded after John Sculley fired him from Apple in 1985,” says Levy.

Jobs’ reluctance to work with Newsweek’s first photographer forced the publication to hire another one, Jobs didn’t like the new one either.

“He was intensely skeptical of the portrait photographer our art director had chosen to take the hero shot. Moshe Brakha? Jobs had never heard of the guy,” writes Levy.

Brakha is an accomplished photographer based in Los Angeles who had shot many big names, but Jobs immediately gave him a hard time.

“His PR team had to all but beg him to walk downstairs from his office and sit for the picture. Jobs glared at me as he grudgingly complied,” says Levy.

But, according to Levy, Brakha worked his magic and calmed Apple’s iconic leader convincing him that he knew what he was doing.

“By the time the photographer asked the interim CEO to sit with legs crossed and hold the machine on his lap, Jobs’ spidey sense told him that he was in the presence of a fellow artist,” says Levy.

“His smile was sweetly genuine in what became not only the dominant photo of the Newsweek spread but one of the most iconic Steve Jobs shots ever.”

Jobs didn’t have much love for photographers, that’s according to Albert Watson who took perhaps the most iconic photo of him. Just before the shoot, Jobs’ PR agent told him, “Just wanted to let you know, Steve hates photographers.”

The iMac, however, became a huge success with new models still being released to this day. Jobs and Apple would go on to have perhaps the most fruitful decade ever releasing hit gadget after hit gadget up until his death in 2011.