Thursday, August 25, 2011

Me and Steve Jobs, part II

After Steve Jobs left Apple there was significant interest in his next venture--which indeed was NeXT Computer.  In preparation to revealing their first computer product NeXT Computer arranged a single day of several overlapping photo shoots with national media in the same large conference room.  Business Week had asked me to do the assignment for them.  I seem to remember I followed Newsweek and Time and was followed by others.

The NeXT PR department was under orders to not allow photographers to duplicate the work of others.  The problem for photographers was that NeXT wouldn't previously reveal what others had done, only after they saw that you were about to do what someone else had done.  After having a couple ideas shot down by the PR executive I devised a scheme that was sure to be approved.  I would shoot Steve in front of a black cloth.  Where the cloth existed no film would be exposed (pre-digital) leaving me to rewind the film and insert something else in its place to be exposed.  I had used this technique in the past and was pretty confident I could re-roll the film and get the frames to match up.  Remember this was before PhotoShop was widely used.

Sure enough no one previously had shot Steve alone in front of a black backdrop and I was given the first go-ahead.  Steve was ushered in and wanted to know what the plan was.  I told him, he seemed highly skeptical but consented and I proceeded to shoot several rolls, the session ended, we said our good byes.

In addition to the portrait I was to shoot the top secret new computer system which was all black.  Because this set up was ready to shoot I re-rolled the film and double exposed Steve with the computer.  The combination of black background and black computer allowed a unique portrait.

When the NeXT Computer was revealed in the press there was a good deal of interest.  As a photographer I was curious to see what others had done with the NeXT limitations and was satisfied that I had done well.  After a few days I received a call from someone at NeXT who asked me to hold the line.  Then Steve Jobs came on the phone to tell me that he finally understood what I was attempting to do and that he loved the result and thanked me.  As you may suspect, this never happens.

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