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.
"They come home sometimes saying words that I didn’t know until I got into the real world. Like, take her. She did something that she wasn’t supposed to do - nothing major - and I told her that I was going to leave her in the house by herself. She breaks down crying. I said ‘what are you crying for?’ And she’s like ‘You’re being facetious!’ I’m like ‘Huh? Excuse me?’ And then he looks at me and says ‘Dad…facetious… it means you’re fooling around.’"
"In my 7th grade year when I first moved back down here I kept getting in fights ‘cause these girls were picking on me. But now I’m cool with one of the girls I had a fight with. I’m kind of the godmother of her child. That’s the craziest thing about New Orleans people… we might fight but the next couple of days or months we're cool."
“I adopted my daughter when she was 5 years old. She was born in New York. She speaks English. She’s handicapped. I love the mama of her... she is my wife. She comes from Honduras and doesn’t speak English. So my daughter translates English to Spanish for my wife."
"I came here from the Philippines in 1979 with two big suitcases. It was kind of scary because I didn’t know anybody... I came to work at the Methodist hospital. Two years later I met my husband and we started dating. Three years later we got married. We’re going to be married 30 years in October.”
“What’s your advice for a good long marriage?”
“Just relax. Give and take. When he’s mad, I don’t say anything. I don’t argue. Because he’s not going to hear me! So I just wait for my moment…"
"Usually we talk about place in the world: how do you fit in? Because Bywater’s really interesting. His neighbor has lived in Bywater his whole life and has seen it transition quite a bit. We talk about what it means for our presence to be here and how it changes the environment and how – do you resist change or do you not resist that change? You’re part of it because you’re in it, and at the same time you may not be agreeing with the change. But you are part of it so it’s impossible to separate yourself from that.”
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.