Put Your Digital Camera Down--Positive Negative

Positive Negative

Owner: Jason Byal

Why Bellingham? “We’re surrounded by mountains, water and an amazing and open community. I created my own job to be here.”

Favorite shop downtown? “All of my neighbors in the Alley District. But if I had to pick one, it would be the Hub Community Bike Shop. I am an avid bicyclist and I’m inspired by what they are doing there.”

 Motivated by his grandfather’s family slideshows, Jason Byal became interested in photography in grade school. He developed the photo bug - he started taking photographs and couldn’t stop. Next came the printing bug. He developed roll after roll of film, and printed photo after photo. As he was looking through the viewfinder of his camera, he could already see the image printed in black and white. Jason has been printing for 14 years now, but people are developing and printing their own images less often these days.

Jason had a desire to bring back this dying practice, and he thought since he was already doing it personally, he might as well set up more photo enlargers to create a space where people could develop and print their own film. Four years ago, he opened his business, Positive Negative, hoping to inspire and support other photographers who do film photography. The name comes from the film photography process: film is negative, while slide film and prints of images are positive.

In Positive Negative, you will find everything that makes a film photographer’s heaven. For developing film, there are developing tanks, chemicals, a sink, timers and a place to hang-dry film. In the darkroom, there are four enlargers that handle a variety of film sizes in black and white and color, timers, chemical baths and more. You’ll find a large table, photo and film cleaning materials, lightboxes, tools to cut and look at negatives, a dry mount press and a mat cutter in the dryroom. Jason also has a studio set up with backdrops and lights. People periodically donate tools that are used in the film photography process when they find them and have no use for them, adding to Jason’s space.

Whether someone is a pro in the darkroom, or if they have never picked up a film camera, people of all skill levels are welcome in Positive Negative. Jason offers workshops and classes for all ages where people can learn about film photography, develop their own film and print their images. If you already know the process, you can simply pay by the hour for use of the space.

The communal workspace Jason created is economically efficient, and helps bring photographers with similar interests together. “People look forward to printing with others,” Jason said. “They learn from each other and make mistakes together.” Having multiple people in the darkroom also inspires photographers. Jason really enjoys being able to do what he is passionate about and hopes to continue to keep film photography alive for many years to come.

 Put your digital cameras down and visit 929 N. State St. #1 

Today's post was written by our Media Intern Kristin Foster.