‘No F***ing Pictures’ What Steve Jobs Told a Photographer Who Flew 5,000 Miles to Take His Portrait

Steve Jobs

A photographer who worked with Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs has revealed the time he flew 5,000 miles to take his portrait only for Jobs to tell him in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want his picture taken.

Jobs was infamous for not being comfortable around photographers; and for this week’s 40th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh, photographer Will Mosgrove appeared on the Macworld podcast where he regaled his sometimes difficult relationship with the legendary Jobs.

Mosgrove, who shot the photo that appeared in the very first issue of Macworld magazine 40 years ago, was commissioned by Apple to fly to Sweden in the mid-1980s to get a shot of Jobs looking like a “world leader” while in a helicopter with a beautiful Swedish castle and countryside in the background.

Mosgrove says that Jobs initially tried to sit in the front set of the chopper which Mosgrove politely objected to because he wouldn’t be able to get a photo of him while sitting there.

After begrudgingly sitting in the backseat, the chopper took off and headed toward the castle where a dinner was being held.

“And as I’m getting my camera out and ready to go, he said, ‘You know, I don’t think I want any pictures’,” Mosgrove regales the Macworld podcast.

“And I said, ‘Well, okay, you know, they flew me from California to Sweden to get this shot and you know, I’m here and I’m ready to do it. Can we just think about this?'”

Jobs, suddenly prickly, repeated his assertion, “I don’t think I really want any photographs.”

“I said, ‘Well how about if we take some photographs and you take a look at them? If you don’t want to use them that’s fine with me, but you know, Tom Hughes (who was the artistic director) said can you get this shot, and I said, yeah, and I need to come back with something.’ And he goes, ‘I don’t want any photographs.'”

Mosgrove says there was then an excruciating 30 seconds of awkward silence as he played with his camera. But as he went to pick it up one more time as the castle loomed into view, Jobs exclaimed, “No f***ing photos.”

“So I went, okay, put the camera away, and his aide was kind of saying, ‘don’t, that’s it, we’re done’,” says Mosgrove.

Mosgrove says the incident was explained to the artistic director who was understanding of the situation but the photographer was annoyed that he had traveled so far and spent a week in Sweden without a single frame of Apple’s visionary leader.

“I felt like crap, but Steve wasn’t going to go for it. And I couldn’t, you know, not do that [relented]. He would have flipped the bird or gotten really p***ed off at me. That’s his kind of relationship with photographers who he just didn’t like being around.”

First Cover of Macworld

Mosgrove did take a portrait of Jobs for the very first edition of the Macworld magazine in 1984, but even that shoot wasn’t without incident.

“We did a couple of quick Polaroids and made sure everything was looking good, lighting-wise. Shot about five minutes or so, and he said, ‘Are we done?’ And I said, ‘We can be, I’d like to try a couple of different things.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’d like to try something, too’,” says Mosgrove.

“So, he started making this really kind of interesting, zany kind of symbols with his hands, and I kind of looked over to the people from Macworld and they were just kind of shaking their heads. We played along with it and shot some film, and it was literally over in probably 15 to 20 minutes.”

Mosgrove believes that Jobs’ dislike of photographers was due to having very little patience when someone else tried to tell him what to do.

“The whole thing with photography, I’d say, ‘Steve, can you try this?’ I’m giving him suggestions on things to do. And he’s so used to saying, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do. And here’s why, and I’m just going to do it’.”

To underline his point, Mosgrove is far from the only photographer Jobs gave a hard time: in August, PetaPixel reported on how difficult it was to get a photo of Jobs with the first-ever iMac in 1998.

The full episode featuring Mosgrove can be heard on the Macworld podcast. It’s episode 871 and it was released yesterday.