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.
"The suppers we had at home growing up were always home cooked. Oh golly. We had the usual red beans and rice on Monday. On Fridays, always some sort of fish, etcetera. And the rest of the time, stuff that you can’t get anymore. One thing that sounds awful but was delicious was kidney stew. Occasionally we had calf liver and onions. Calf liver is not as tough, no matter how you cook it, as beef liver. What they sell at the grocery today as ‘calf liver’ - the 'calf' is maybe 20 or 30 years old!"
“My dad still doesn’t believe me but I’m trying to convince him that all the stuff we eat is not good. I don’t think he knew that. He was like ‘aw, that doesn’t matter.’ I was like ‘you’ll see… it’s gonna matter’. We have all these health problems we’re carrying and all that so I’m trying to help.”
"My father passed away 14 years ago. I was 15 at the time. It was a little rough... luckily I had my mother and my stepfather. Friends and family and everything helped me get through it. Recently when Germany won the World Cup, that was pretty exciting because my father was born in Germany and moved here when he was young, so I thought about him a lot. And when Germany finally took the championship, that was a very proud moment."
"We not from here - we're actually from Oklahoma City. I came down on a job opportunity but it kinda went bad for me so I gotta find another way. That's why I'm here at the Salvation Army. New Orleans got its good and it got its bad. As long as I stay out of the negative environments I'm going to be just fine. I'm doing it for her now... it's not about me, it's about family. And she's what keeps me going."
“I first came to New Orleans in 1970 with the Stooges. Guitar, bass, drums, Iggy, and me on saxophone. He was the first instance of punk rock meets free jazz kind of thing. I was 19 years old and I thought I had it made.”
“What would you tell your 19 year old self now?”
“Things that you don’t ever imagine, good and bad, will happen. You try to learn from that and grow from that. And don’t be too depressed when things don’t turn out how you want them at the time because what goes around does come around.”
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.