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Graham Walzer: Tools for Science

Work / Photography

Photographer Graham Walzer shot his dad’s amateur science experiments

When LA-based portrait photographer Graham Walzer popped into the INT studio to show us his portfolio during a trip to London a few weeks ago, we found ourselves instantly hooked by Tools for Science, a charming series of Graham’s dad conducting amateur experiments. Supersize bubbles, a Diet Coke bottle flinging a jet of bubbling brown liquid metres high into the air; the series is a treasure trove of try-this-at-home explorations into the weird and wacky. “I’ve been photographing my father and his science experiments for a long time,” Graham explains. “He is not a professional scientist. He is just a dad with a love for chemical reactions and things that go ka-boom.”

“When I was a kid, my father had drawers full of brown glass bottles. They were covered with skull and cross-bone warning labels and reeked of sour smells ‘These are not toys Graham, these are tools for science,’ he would say.”

Despite his Dad’s warnings, the temptation of the unknown proved too much for a curious young Graham. “We sat together mixing a homemade explosive that, once dried, would be volatile to the touch. I crouched, watching my father stir the chalky mixture. ‘Now promise me, you will not touch anything until I come back’ my `dad said. I nodded in reply, unable to look away from the drying paste. Ten minutes later, I was still staring, I couldn’t resist. I nudged it gently with a stick. Nothing. I poked at it again. Silence. I found a hammer discarded nearby. My father walked back into the garage just as the hammer came crashing down on the dry powder. A deafening bang and mushroom cloud engulfed his eight-year-old son. He thought he killed me.”

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Graham Walzer: Tools for Science