davidbender davidbender

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David Bender  Collector of old photos & creator of new stories. Digital collage artist. #ForgottenLives | Chicago, IL Details about the Forgotten Lives Project:


Four years ago I started my #ForgottenLives project with no idea what I was doing (literally, did not know how to use Photoshop or how to use a DSLR camera) or where I was going with it.
I'm now at a crossroad. My life is different. My perspective is different. I just turned 40 and feel different. I want to make the most of moments and not be afraid of taking chances.
I have new ideas for this project/process that involve delving into new realms that I haven't explored before. Weird places in my psyche. Uncomfortable places. Unknown places.
I'm hoping you'll continue with me on this journey...πŸŒ›

"The Saddest Song" detailed post. #ForgottenLives

The Saddest Song | #ForgottenLives

Evolution | The still version.

The evolution of "Evolution" | #ForgottenLives

Some more details about this piece:

I started it with the hope of posting my progress continually and with great detail. I didn't post down to the nitty gritty like I had originally wanted - life and work got in the way and it became difficult to share all those details towards the end. But I hope what I shared was a little glimpse into my artistic world. I plan on sharing more of the multi-layered processes I go through when working and I have a lot of new work in the works.
I put this video together to show a small amount of the layering. In it, you'll notice the feathers in groups but when laying them out, I did them individually. I had hundreds upon hundreds of layers in my Photoshop file before merging them for the sake of this video. In addition, I left out the coloring, blurring, dodging and burning. And the cutting out of all the little trees and rocks I photographed.

This piece was truly a labor of love but worth every painstaking minute. Before I move on to posting new work, I'll share some more detailed shots. This is the kind of piece that needs to be seen on a large screen or printed large - a lot of details feel lost when looking at a small screen.

And for any of you that are interested, you can order prints of my work on my website - link in bio.

Happy Tuesday to all. πŸ’«

More background experimenting. Photos I've taken of bare trees and mossy rocks and sunsets are what's pulling this scene together.
She's almost done. πŸ’«

Background: I'm playing around with ideas. I know that I want her growing/evolving/emerging from water. The theme here is evolution.
I'm going through photos I've taken that I can transform into something else. Top left is a photo I took a few years ago on the rooftop of a previous place I lived. And it was one of the first I took with my new (at the time) Nikon DSLR.
Bottom left was summer 2013. I was in northern Michigan. Old Mission Peninsula to be exact. Just patiently waiting for the sun to set.
On the right, I'm laying out the basic background. Going to play around with colors and light and feelings... #ForgottenLives

I'll be resuming my current project soon but for now...season's greetings to all! πŸŽ„πŸŽβ„οΈ

Color Gradient: I have placed all of these feathers one by one by one. That tested my patience (or lack thereof). I'm now playing around with color gradients. Light to dark or dark to light. I'm feeling the one on the right. It flows in a way that seems organic and real. I might add color or colors. I might keep it neutral. I'm going to sleep on it. And I hope you keep following along. #ForgottenLives πŸ’«

Construction: This is where I start putting my ideas together into something more tangible in Photoshop. I probably have hundreds in this stage, unfinished. I go back to them and revisit, sometimes I finish them, sometimes pull ideas for new pieces but usually, they just sit around with an unknown fate.

Her dress is going to be made of feathers. Many feathers. Maybe thousands. I photographed this feather I found at the beach in Chicago then cut it out in Photoshop. I'm starting the layering process following the shape I've layed out. All of them placed, individually. It's time-consuming, to say the least.
If you've followed me for a while you might know, all of the elements in my pieces are things I've photographed. I don't use any stock photos. Nothing wrong with doing that! I just don't.
Wish me luck with all these feathers. 😯


Concepts and Layouts: This is where I begin playing around with an idea and start laying out the shapes and designs. I've been thinking a lot about evolution lately. And genetic mutations.
I sometimes read articles and watch videos of strange genetic mutations or disorders. I find them to be utterly fascinating, strangely beautiful, and often inspiring.
For this piece, I'm thinking about those things. The genetic 'mistakes' that make people so different, in a good way.

Here, I'm drawing a basic shape that I see in my head and starting with that.
Can you guess what I've decided to make her dress out of?

With my next piece I've decided to do something different here. I'm going to document my whole process from start to finish. Beginning with an old photo, concepting, experimenting, trial and error, and hopefully finishing with a piece I'm happy with.
It all starts with an old photograph. I get most of them at antique stores or on Ebay. Lately, people have been giving me photographs which is pretty amazing. I usually stick to purchasing and working with photos taken between 1850s-1900. Everything from Daguerreotypes, tintypes, cabinet cards, and CVDs.
This one here - a cabinet card - was given to me by a friend. I had an idea for her as soon as I saw her and she's in pretty good shape. I find some that are scratched and severely damaged but I'll buy them anyway if I think they're unique.
I scanned this and retouched it in Photoshop. Only took about 15 minutes to retouch. Some take hours to fix. Especially if I have to recreate a limb or other body part. I just retouched one recently and had to recreate an eye. That was fun. πŸ˜’

After I retouch I meticulously cut around them, pixel by pixel, so the background is completely cut out. That's by far my least favorite part of this whole process. The pic on the left is the un-retouched scan. The one one the right is retouched and cut out.

So as of now she's retouched and cut. Stay tuned for more.

#ForgottenLives πŸ’«