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.
"He was a protector. He was big and strong and he used to ride down the street with his bike and he beat up anybody that messed with me. As time passed, I went one route, he went another. We lost touch for about two years and when we got back together after Katrina, I was in the military. He was jealous because he went the other route. He had seven felonies and his insecurities came out ‘cause I was able to make more money than him and get a better job than he could. His insecurities made him violent and I wasn’t going to take that so I left. After I left him and he couldn’t see his kids, then he went to therapy because he saw that something was wrong with him. He actually got help. He got a psychiatrist, he’s on medicine, and our parenting skills are much better than the relationship was. My kids are up there now. We co-parent and it’s been great. No drama at all."
"There were 10 of us—my mom had 8 kids—and so when you’d walk into a restaurant, most times the wait staff would be really annoyed at such a large party. But the Chinese restaurants were always really, really generous, and they loved us. We would go to the Five Happiness on Carrollton and all ten of us would be seated around the table. So my dad would open up the menu, and he’d say ‘I’ll have a Suffering Bastard. Because that’s what I am.’ And we would all burst out laughing. He would do it every single time we went."
"I changed when I made the decision to come here last year. I’d been in the same job for a long time and I had to leave the job and pick up and move belongings and move here. And that was easy for me when I was 20, when I was 30, but not so much now that I’m 60. So it was big. It was very very big. I wasn’t sure I could do it - I almost cry when I talk about it. I think it’s just important not to get to the end of your life and realize that you were too afraid to make changes. And so it was sort of a dare to myself."
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.