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.
"I used to cut his hair but he was with somebody else. Two years later we ended up together. We always knew - the minute we met we knew ‘I’m supposed to be with you.'"
"Ever since I was a little kid I used to watch the ice skating Olympics and tell my parents I wanted to be an ice skater when I grew up because their moves and their spins are so precise you have to like, computerize them and slow them down to really catch their gracefulness. Now I really want to go to school to follow my passion and pursue a career in dance and choreography, but I feel like there's not a lot of opportunities for that career here. I'm stuck in fast food and just trying to get out there."
“The Treme is gone. They really don’t want music here. But this has always been a music place, right in this area. Like the Treme Brass Band and Uncle Lionel Batiste - he’s gone but you still see him, you still think of him. He’s up on the post, he’s over there, he’s everywhere. He was always here. He was just like, everything.”
“My block is my favorite place in the world. I love living there and I love all of my neighbors. It feels really communal and everybody’s really different and everybody’s looking out for each other - old people, young people, black people, white people. But I’m moving and I’m really sad. I’m going to miss it a lot. You know, it’ll probably change too. These things never stay the same. One day quality control is going to come in and get the chickens out of the middle of the road and that charm will wear off. But until then, they climb up in the tree at night and like, shit on whoever’s car is below. And if you live on the block, you know not to park under the tree overnight, and if you don’t live on the block, you don’t know that."
“Sunday morning at 7am I checked my phone and I had a missed call and text from my roommate and it said ‘call me right now… our apartment caught on fire and everything burned down.’ Immediately I grabbed my girlfriend and told her ‘we have to go.' It’s only ten minutes from her place to mine but it felt like an eternity and the whole time I was crying because the only thing I could think of was my year-old puppy, Jockamo - that I was coming home to find her dead in the apartment. And I couldn’t handle that. I thought everything had burned down and I had come to terms with that on that car drive, but I couldn’t come to terms with losing my dog. So I pulled up and I saw all the smoke and all the damage in the back and I immediately knew this was really bad. The door was kicked in so we just kind of walked in. It’s crazy because when it comes to something like that, everything that could go right did. None of us were home. A neighbor a few doors down had volunteered to take care of the cat and dog until we got there. The most important things that could have been damaged - each other and the animals - were salvaged. I’ve always believed the city is magic and I still do, even with everything. Even with the fire, just the goodness of people and the coming together of everybody to help. We didn’t have renter’s insurance. I’ve literally had renter’s insurance since I moved out on my own 5 years ago. When I moved New Orleans 5 months ago it was the last thing on my mind. People have asked me if I feel different about New Orleans now that I’ve lost everything, and I mean, no. One time someone told me ‘The less you own, the less owns you’ and that’s kinda how it feels right now. I don’t have much but at the same time I feel like I have everything that I need.”
Claire Bangser is a New Orleans-based photographer and filmmaker with a passion for storytelling. She is the creator of NOLAbeings and has produced work for local, national, an international organizations and media since 2009. Highlights include a three-month bike tour storytelling project on the west coast, documentation for a four-month National Geographic Young Explorer’s grant in Turkey, and New Orleans-based digital storytelling projects like Cry You One and BOUDIN: The New Orleans Music Project. Find more of her work at www.clairebangser.com.