Arts & Entertainment

Tacoma Darkroom: film photography and creative event hub

Check out this exciting new addition to Tacoma’s flourishing arts scene.

Laying on the grimy, rain-soaked steps of the 12th Street Hill Climb at 7 a.m, Ayden Pierce was ready to quit the Tacoma Darkroom. The security gate bent beyond repair, the front door smashed and thousands of dollars worth of cameras and gear were stolen from another founding member, Daniel Davis. That early Oct. morning, Pierce and Davis, 23 and 25, didn’t know Tacoma Darkroom was going to keep fulfilling its vision of making film photography accessible and affordable. After posting about the loss via social media, the Darkroom was inundated with support. Meeting their financial goal of raising $2,500 within days, the Tacoma Darkroom is determined to rebuild and give back to their dedicated supporters.

The surprisingly overwhelming response solidifies that there is a strong need for more creative spaces in Tacoma. Founded by Ayden Pierce, Daniel Davis, Wong Namaya, Charlie Stanfill and Dave Coss, Tacoma Darkroom plans to become an open resource for photographers and creatives of all ages. The five-member group crafted the business through out of pocket funding, donations from fellow creatives and hard work. All industrious, young entrepreneurs, Pierce said “none of us have ever owned a business before” and that “I feel a really strong responsibility to make it happen.” 

In addition to darkroom facilities, the team is working towards having competitive pricing for quick film development, rentable studio access, regular workshops and photography walks. Davis said “I want to take care of every single young photographer who has any kind of ambition to grow in that craft, whether they plan on doing it professionally or not, I just want to help them at least attempt it.” Their hope is that students “walking between classes can come in and see it and get their film developed, or even develop it themselves.” 

What started as a need for darkroom and studio space has blossomed into a creative hub that has been embraced by artists and creatives all across the South Sound. Over the past few months, Tacoma Darkroom made their mark on the community through their after-hours gallery parties. Limited by supply chain issues and business start-up setbacks, the team decided to host musicians like Vealinium, DJ Don Havi and other local up-and-coming artists in their spacious location in Downtown Tacoma to introduce the business to Tacoma residents. The parties, centered around networking and gallery exhibits, have also featured vintage vendors, tattoo artists and local makers. Davis explained that many events have been the result of gallery pop-ups; “I’ve had a lot of people asking if they can come by and promote their art, the answer is yes, every time.” 

While they are putting the final touches on their darkroom space, Pierce and Davis encourage people to reach out through social media and stay tuned for upcoming events. Davis added that “we’re never opposed to learning new things, there are a lot of really creative young artists at UW Tacoma, I would love for somebody to come in and teach me new things.” The Tacoma Darkroom team wants to serve as a creative resource for Downtown Tacoma, from film photography services to engaging events, exemplified by their comment; “come by the Darkroom, we’ll take care of you!”

Make an appointment or reach out to the Tacoma Darkroom via Instagram, @thetacomadarkroom to learn more about their events and business.