Carl Størmer’s Covert Photographs

In 1893, a Norwegian mathematician and astrophysicist named Carl Størmer purchased a tiny camera that he could hide in his clothing. For the next four years, he secretly took photos on the street.

Carl Størmer


Because I write about real people, I’ve frequently faced this ethical dilemma. I really value privacy and believe it’s disrespectful and invasive to take pictures of people without their knowledge and permission. On the other hand, sharing stories and photographs from the turn of the century is really valuable. It’s a unique time in history that is still so relatable yet it will never return. We shouldn’t lose what we still have of them.

Is it okay to post pictures of people if they aren’t living anymore? I don’t know. I’ve usually pacified the discomfort I feel by reassuring myself that at least the subjects knew they were being photographed and were okay with it. This is different because these people definitely did not know it.

However, Størmer eventually exhibited the photographs himself so I’m going to guess people were okay with it. The photographs are really cool. There are so few candid photos from this era, they’re really unique!

All of the photos were taken in Oslo between 1893-1897 and can be found on