Scott Darling was born and raised in Southern California, exposed early on to the pleasures and potential of art and photography. That passion led him to a master’s degree in photography from the famed Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, where he met his wife and collaborator Zoë van Baaren, likewise a graduate of Brooks. Together they moved to New York City in 1995 and in 1996 created the commercial firm Formula z/s whose moniker was inspired by racing (and a short-lived dream to start a MotoGP team of the same name!). Formula z/s garnered commissions from across the international advertising and editorial worlds, including such high profile clients as Kate Spade, Target, Barneys New York, Martha Stewart Living, New York Times Magazine, and Real Simple who were drawn to their distinctive approach to the still life. Their photographs were characterized by a love of color, bold design, and an energizing sense of drama.
The firm continued to grow and prosper after a move to Brooklyn in 2002, and in 2006 the more personal name of Scott & Zoë was adopted to reflect the growing intimacy and idiosyncratic nature of their work. With maturity and experience, they became fluent in capturing and harnessing subtle details that shift the experience of an everyday occurrence into something magical and unexpected. As Scott has said, “My purpose is to create visually stimulating still lives that engage the viewer to think and interpret what they see from their own point of view.” This evolution of their vision was also shaped by their growing family, as well as the change of environment that a 2009 move to Portland, Oregon afforded. The light and abundant nature of the Pacific Northwest, not to mention an experimental and open attitude to lifestyle and cuisine that permeates the place, has continued to exert an influence on their outlook in life and art.
In 2010 another name change occurred, to just Scott Darling, in recognition of the now central role played by Scott in the firm, but with Zoë as ever present muse and valued advisor. The subtle development of the practice has continued under this new arrangement, with a priority given to process, allowing the viewer to have a more active role in perceiving the ways an image comes together. About this, Scott has commented, “it is not enough anymore to just dazzle the viewer with technical tricks, and for a deeper connection to the imagery, I feel that they need to be aware of their role in the completion of the picture.” To do this he goes on to explain: “I love the whole process of creating the story around any given subject, whether sourcing a great hand bag, making an environment for a classic shoe, deconstructing a shirt stitch by stitch and rebuilding it into a new form, or building a believable landscape with a meandering river from scratch.” Scott remains committed to making fresh and unexpected images grounded in bold color, powerful composition, and a meticulous eye for the wonderfully odd details that transform a picture into an event.