That creepy spine-tingly feeling you get when you think you’re being watched? Booksellers across America have been feeling it since Oct. 24, the publication date of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography. The cover depicts Jobs, chin resting on his hands, staring directly back into the reader’s — or bookstore salesclerk’s — eyes.
Booksellers Kat Bailey and Nici McCown of the Bookshop Santa Cruz started the Tumblr Watched by Steve, taking photos around the shop of Jobs peering down at them. The images turn the photo from a pensive image of a genius into a somewhat sinister, disapproving visage. Still, the creators say they mean no disrespect: “It's been wonderful to have this long-awaited book in our store. We see it as a tribute to a very striking book cover, one that we can't stop seeing everywhere we go,” they write.
A bookstore isn’t the only place to spot the late Apple co-founder these days. Since Jobs died in early October, the image of him in his signature black turtleneck has become iconic, spawning self-portrait tributes from fans and becoming the country’s top Halloween costume this year. Those planning to impersonate him for the holiday should practice making their most scrutinizing face.
The photograph, taken by Albert Watson for Fortune Magazine in 2006, is famous not just for depicting Jobs in his characteristic style, but for its sternness and intensity, other traits that Jobs will be remembered for. In Photo District News, Watson recalled:
“I had wanted to do the shot in a minimalistic way because I knew that was going to suit him very well. He said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I said I would like 95 percent, almost 100 percent of eye contact with the camera, and I said, ‘Think about the next project you have on the table,’ and I asked him also to think about instances where people have challenged him.”
“If you look at that shot, you can see the intensity. It was my intention that by looking at him, that you knew this guy was smart,” Watson says, adding, “I heard later that it was his favorite photograph of all time.”
Here are some more Watched by Jobs scenarios captured by Associated Press photographer Paul Sakuma:
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