Multimedia artist Claire Bangser created NOLAbeings as a portrait-based story project that marries image and text. Inspired by the Humans of NY project, it stems from the belief that we can all learn from one anothers' stories. Primarily featured on Instagram (and tumblr), Claire meets people in coffee shops, grocery stores, living rooms, sidewalks, and learns something about each individual through a snapshot conversation and image. After discovering and falling in love with the project, editors at NolaVie asked to post a weekly roundup of her most visually and narratively stimulating photos.
"Today I am St. Nicholas [...]. His feast day is celebrated tomorrow so down in the French Market they had a big festival in order to celebrate. But my [real] name is Shoeless, and the reason people call me Shoeless is because I never ever wear shoes. These are boots - 'bootless' is Shakespearean. That's a loophole. If I'm on the clock, I'll wear just about anything. But in my real life, had you ever met me, I would not be wearing shoes. I was born without shoes... it's kind of sad."
"Two twin sisters, I worked with one, he worked with the other. We had never met the opposite sisters. They set it up. We were having a girls day on the beach. I didn't know he was coming... they called him and said to come meet me. The last thing I wanted was another man in my life. Well, blind date set up, we've been together ever since. And then we moved here."
"Seems like everyone who walks by knows you!"
"Yes, even the trash people - I'm going to bake them some goodies for Christmas when they come by. We love everybody. And we have a good time talking to everybody."
"Why live inside when you've got this beautiful city to look at?"
"I have three little girls - 3, 5, and 6 months. They cool. They're real cool. I teach 'em a lot - how to be nice, say thank you, manners. They love me. They love to play. Having children made me more mature, made me grow up a lot. I just want everybody to get along with each other, that's it."
"I'm a mom. Balancing everything - work, school, having a kid - it's so hard and I don't even know how I do it but it gets done. I'm learning how much personality a baby can have. My daughter has a lot of personality - she's a fun, bossy, independent little woman. She knows how to do a fist pump. That's really dope. [...] It's kind of crazy - she is my everything, she's my whole life, but to her I'm just one little piece. I'm just this little bitty dot in her life because she'll experience so much."
Claire Bangser is a New Orleans-based freelance photographer and short filmmaker, and founder of the Roots and Wings Creative. Her work – spanning commercial and editorial projects – is centered around telling human stories powerfully. In February 2014, she started the popular New Orleans street portrait project NOLAbeings. Since then, her work has been featured by a wide range of media, including National Geographic, The New York Times, TIME, Wired, Glamour, Vox, Amazon’s DP Review, Le Parisien Magazine and New Orleans Magazine. Claire leads trips every summer for National Geographic Student Expeditions, where she teaches filmmaking and photography to high school students abroad.