Oslo bombing attacks: A Norwegian street photographer's exclusive images from the downtown blasts.

Collected images.
July 22 2011 7:26 PM

A Norwegian Street Photographer's Account of the "Mad Confusion" in Oslo

Exclusive images of downtown before and after the blasts.

Read Slate's complete coverage of the tragedy in Norway. 

1_123125_2065425_2283828_2298709_2299935_replacepromoimage

When explosions struck downtown Oslo, Norway, on Friday, Olav Ljone Skogaas was sitting in his second-floor office a few blocks from the Norwegian prime minister's office.

"We heard a rumble and then a massive crash. I almost thought it was thunder at first and then realized it was something completely different. The windows in my boss's office were completely blown out and we evacuated," he told Slate over the phone.

Thirty-five-year-old Skogaas works for a translation agency by day, but his passion is street photography. As soon as he'd called his wife tell her he was OK, he pulled out his Leica camera and began photographing the glass-filled streets around him. He captured images of shock and rubble as he tried to pinpoint the origin of the blasts.

"There were a lot of people running in the streets. A lot of alarms went off. ... There was mad confusion, but also there was a bit of calm [and the attitude] 'Let's see what happened,  lets take care of the injured and get this done,' " he says.

Documenting downtown Oslo is a regular part of life for Skogaas, who says he usually has his camera on hand when outside the office. Looking through his photos on Flickr, some taken just a few days ago, gives you a sense of what downtown Oslo is like on a normal summer day. People are shopping, cooling off in a fountain, hula-hooping in the street.

In the gallery above, we alternated these earlier images with photos Skogaas took after the blasts in order to contextualize this city in crisis. Although Skogaas' previous photos don't show exactly the same locations as those hit by Friday's explosions, all the black-and-white photographs were taken within three blocks of the government buildings affected, according to Skogaas.

When Slate reached Skogaas, he was done shooting for the day. Sitting at home with his wife, watching TV, and fielding calls from friends and family, Skogaas said locals are feeling "a lot of confusion … shock and outrage and fear, of course. But most of my friends from what I've seen on Facebook, there is also a feeling that we won't let this dictate our lives."

Late Friday, Norwegian state TV announced that seven people had been killed and at least 15 injured in the explosions. An unknown number of others were also hurt when a man dressed as a police officer opened fire on a summer camp for political youth.

None of Skogaas' friends or colleagues were injured, as far as he knows. It's fortunate, he said, that the blasts went off on a summer afternoon during peak vacation season. "I think a lot of people had taken an early day," he said.

Had he left work just a bit earlier himself, he might well have been photographing—as he often does—closer to the main blast site.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 11:59 AM Ask a Homo: A Lesbian PDA FAQ
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 12:26 PM Where Do I Start With Leonard Cohen?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.