A 19-Year-Old Student Hides Spy Camera In His Clothing To Take Secret Street Photos In The 1890s


This story is not something you would expect to hear happened in the 1890s. Today maybe, but not 130 years ago.

But that's because Carl Størmer (1872-1957) wasn't your normal guy.  Far from it, in fact. Carl enjoyed a hobby that was very, very unusual at the time. He walked around Oslo, Norway in the 1890s with his spy camera and secretly took everyday pictures of people. The subjects in Størmer's pictures appear in their natural state. It extremely differs from the grave and strict posing trends that dominated in photography during those years.

Carl got his C.P. Stirn Concealed Vest Spy Camera in 1893 when he was studying mathematics at the Royal Frederick University (now, University of Oslo). "It was a round flat canister hidden under the vest with the lens sticking out through a buttonhole," he told St. Hallvard Journal in 1942. "Under my clothes I had a string down through a hole in my trouser pocket, and when I pulled the string the camera took a photo."

Norway's first paparazzi usually photographed people at the exact time they were greeting him on the street. "I strolled down Carl Johan, found me a victim, greeted, got a gentle smile and pulled. Six images at a time and then I went home to switch [the] plate." In total, Størmer took a total of about 500 secret images.

His candid photos aside, Størmer was also fascinated with science. He was a mathematician and physicist, known both for his work in number theory and studying the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

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