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.
"Being polyamorous, I believe in more than one love - it is very difficult for me to believe in monogamy. My parents are - well, my mother and my stepdad are nudists, and then my dad and my stepmom also sort of dabble in threesomes. My mom always taught me that you need to follow your heart, and love is love. And it might not necessarily be restricted to one person. I’ve always been attracted to both sexes and I was very fortunate to find a partner who lets me celebrate one side of myself with him and trust me to celebrate the other side with women.”
"We went to Florida and got married on the beach by ourselves. And then we actually came back and had a crawfish boil for our family and friends. That was the way to do it - stress free, you know, no frills. And then a year later we got pregnant with this guy. We’re the people we didn’t ever think we’d be. [...] We all three sleep in the bed together and wake up together. It's just very natural and very sweet to spend this time with him as a little baby."
“Food has changed, but what can you do? There’s nothing like your mother and grandmother used to cook. They have a flavor to all of that, but now it’s a different flavor to everything. Everybody don’t cook the same. The seasoning, [my sister’s] is a little bit spicy. I can’t take too much spicy. They used to say if you wanted salt, you add salt to it when you’re cooking. But now they cook with all that salt and they still gotta add salt and there’s no flavor! Too much salt, too much pepper, you can’t taste the food.”
"She’s literally like a replica of me. There’s thoughts I’ve thought in my head that I would never tell anyone. And she’s said them. I’m like ‘Are you serious?’ And when we listen to music, we both flex our calves to the beat.”
"I'm married to a woman who does not know that I'm gay. It is a situation with immigration."
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.