INTERESTING

19th Century Street Photographer Used Spy Camera To Take Incredible Photos

by Elana

Take a step back in time to the 1890's with Carl Størmer, a hobby enthusiast and student who lived from 1872 to 1957. Strolling through Oslo, Norway in the 1890's, Størmer was not like other people from his era. Photography had not even been around much longer than before Carl was born, to begin with, so his interests were certainly one of a kind. It was nothing nefarious, of course, but to hide a spy camera in your clothes and take photos of people in the streets in the 1890's was definitely not the sort of thing people did back then. What really makes Størmer's photos mesmerizing though is that they are vastly different from the photos of the 19th century we are accustomed to seeing. Strict, somber poses were the norm back then while Størmer's photos captured people in their natural state, unaware they were even being photographed.

And even then, Størmer was an all-around fascinating individual! He was a mathematician and physicist and he was well known for his work in number theory as well as for studying the Aurora Borealis.

In 1893 when Størmer was studying mathematics at the Royal Frederick University (today is known as University of Oslo,) he acquired his C.P. Stirn Concealed Vest Spy Camera. In 1942, he explained his process to Hallvard Journal:

It was a round flat canister hidden under the vest with the lens sticking out through a buttonhole. 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.

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.

For the time he ventured in this project, Carl Størmer took over 500 photographs.

1. Genuine Smiles

We don't get to see a lot of smile from the 19th century, so this is a real treat.

1. Genuine Smiles

2. Just a stroll!

Such simple times.

2. Just a stroll!

3. Intriguing

The scenery, the faces, all of the features of his photos are fascinating.

3. Intriguing

4. Seeing the 19th century in motion

It's pretty cool.

4. Seeing the 19th century in motion

5. They dressed so cool

It's crazy that we see things like this man's appearance in movies and cartoons without realizing fully how normal it once was. You will see many men dressed just like this throughout the photo series.

5. They dressed so cool

6. Big smiles

And sunshine skies!

6. Big smiles

7. Epic chops

Everything about this guy is pretty epic.

7. Epic chops

8. Here kitty, kitty!

I am surprised by how many people carried their kitties around with them in the 1890's.

8. Here kitty, kitty!

9. Fancy in white

Don't forget your parasol.

9. Fancy in white

10. Just another day

Walking the streets in the 1890's.

10. Just another day

11. The children were adorable

Look at their little coats!

11. The children were adorable

12. Is this a mother with her daughter?

Or a teacher with her pupil? It's a super cool photograph either way.

12. Is this a mother with her daughter?

13. Unexpected Smiles

We often presume people were so stiff in the 19th century, seeing them casually smile is so pleasant.

13. Unexpected Smiles

14. Kittens!

Just hanging outside with your cat!

14. Kittens!

15. Peaceful

The photos are so calming to look at.

15. Peaceful

16. They tipped their hats

What a gentleman thing to do!

16. They tipped their hats

17. But this hat-cane combo is the best

Especially with the bow tie.

17. But this hat-cane combo is the best

18. Humanity has always been fascinated with the skies.

18. Humanity has always been fascinated with the skies.

19. So many smiles!

It just seems like this must have been a very lovely day.

19. So many smiles!

20. Strolling along

With a buggy in the background.

20. Strolling along

21. Oh, hello officer

The police officers back then looked pretty darn cool, too.

21. Oh, hello officer

22. Looking ahead

22. Looking ahead

23. Just another day.

23. Just another day.

24. A man, a boy, and a dog

The perfect way to enjoy the park.

24. A man, a boy, and a dog

25. Just another day.

A simple day.

25. Just another day.

26. They see me strollin'

They hatin'.

26. They see me strollin'

27. And a good day to you, too, sir.

27. And a good day to you, too, sir.

28. As a matter of fact...

Doesn't this guy look so dapper? I think he looks dapper.

28. As a matter of fact...

29. Just a man and his boy and his dog.

And a very lovely day in the park.

29. Just a man and his boy and his dog.

30. Rollin' down the street

Looking epic and elegant at the same time.

30. Rollin' down the street

31. Variety

People, humans, have always come in a variety.

31. Variety

32. Awesome

The clothing? Literally awesome.

32. Awesome

33. Smile under the umbrella

No one knows you're smiling, wink-wink.

33. Smile under the umbrella

34. Just another fine day for hat tipping.

Like proper gentlemen do.

34. Just another fine day for hat tipping.

35. Just a woman and her cane.

Enjoying a lovely stroll.

35. Just a woman and her cane.

36. He seems like a good dad.

Enjoying his day at the park, unaware that some random dude is secretly photographing his little family...

36. He seems like a good dad.

37. Parasol in the sun.

It was completely necessary, don't you know?

37. Parasol in the sun.

38. Officer!

Police officers seemed so much friendlier in the 19th century.

38. Officer!

39. "I'm on a boat!"

It's almost like young adults have always enjoyed some leisure time?

39.

40. Cat lovers!

Domesticated cats have been more than mousers for a long time. They were clearly beloved family members in the 19th century, too.

40. Cat lovers!

41. "What's that man doing behind us?"

They seem suspicious of the secret photographer.

41.

42. A lovely day for a boat.

Just enjoy the breeze and the calm of the water.

42. A lovely day for a boat.

43. Blast from the past.

These women are enjoying a day on the town, dressed in their best it certainly seems.

43. Blast from the past.

44. A lovely day.

Chatting, smiling, enjoying life.

44. A lovely day.

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