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 do very naughty things and don’t tell mummy!”
“We put maple syrup on a spoon... and then eat it!"
“I painted his face with peanut butter and he picked my nose and we had a peeing contest in the porta-potties. I was wearing overalls and I beat him and all of his guy friends. […] We started a long-distance internet-centric relationship and I went to visit him and immediately blurted out ‘I’m in love with you!’ And he had come out of a really intense relationship and that was too much too soon for him and so we spent the next two years having this messy thing where I knew he was who I wanted to spend my life with [but he] wasn’t ready to explore those kinds of emotions. When we broke up for the third time I moved down here and had a year of self-exploration and really grew into who I am. After a year, he contacted me and I forced myself to put him into the ‘friend' category because I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. And then one night he texted me and he said ‘you are still the only person that I can be 100% myself with, but there is just this one thing I can’t seem to tell you.' I knew right away he was going to say he was in love with me and I didn’t feel like I felt the same way about him anymore and I told him to call me so that I could try and let him down easy. And the minute I picked up the phone and heard his voice, all of my rationalizations for why I shouldn’t jump into this again flew out of my head and I was like ‘I love you too! Alright, let’s try this again!’ That was in September of 2012, and we got married seven months later [alone] under an oak tree in City Park."
“Lionel Batiste was my brother. He was the baby boy. We both was the number one dressers. We'd take after the models – they knew how to dress. I'd dress up in suits and I love hats, and special shoes."
"I cooked everything for my children when I had ten children, you know. And I’d teach ‘em manners, that’s for one thing! Say ‘good evening’, ‘good morning’, ‘yes ma’am’, ‘no ma’am’, ‘yes sir’, ‘no sir’ and ‘thank you’! We say a blessing for food and thank God that you got it. And you know what I used to do when my mama was living in my house? I got different plates – ten plates, different colors. Each one of [my children] had their own plate. Count the whole ten of them. They had to use their own plate to eat their food, so they didn’t take nobody else’s. And they did that. They listened to what I said and they all went to school, so I’m proud of all that. They praise me for raising them up that way."
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.