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.
“We met at the local bar that I drank at. She was in there just having lunch and I was in there on a day off - I came in to have a drink. I asked her if she wanted a drink and she said ‘Hell no!’”
“I didn’t say ‘Hell no,’ I just said ‘No.’”
“She’s like ‘No, I’m okay’ and so I bought everyone sitting next to her on both sides shots and did a few rounds. And then everyone kind of left and I told her to come sit with me and she said ‘okay’ and that was it. We’ve been inseparable ever since.”
"It could be a whole lot better than the way it is, but I’m sorta comfortable with who I am. If this is the way it’s meant to be, this is how it’s gonna be. For what I would like to have, you’d have to be making a lot of money. That type of work in this day and age is not for me. I’d have to hit the lottery. Hopefully one day I get that million, or that 50 million. First thing I’d do - I’d take my family and we’d just get what everybody needs. I’d try to help some of the homeless, the less fortunate, because you don’t ever forget where you come from. I’d get this dream house, take care of my mother. We’d just have this big old place where we could live - you know my brothers, my family, my grandkids, my son - everybody that’s close-knit to me.”
“My kids are 5, 3, and 1. I’m very tired. I’m learning how important time is. I go to work at 8:30 or 9-o’clock a.m. And get back almost 10 p.m. My dad is a dialysis patient, so my husband stays home to take care of him and the kids. My husband will cook because I don’t have time to cook at home. They will eat a family style meal: maybe soup, some kind of fish or Gà Kho, salad, and rice. Vietnamese food, American food, gumbo, po-boys—they eat all of it. I go home and eat by myself after work, because they are asleep.”
"My mama makes some good pho. Like every time she makes pho, I have to have two bowls. Not one, but two. She uses real beef broth, real beef, and the bones and everything. Real A-1 stuff. Good. It ain’t like these restaurants, pre-made—just broth, noodles, meat. We have a loving relationship, but we ain’t really too much in each other’s lives because she stay like two hours away. I moved here on my own because I had to get away. She stay in Plaquemines—it was too country for me. There’s no Walmart, nothing out there."
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.