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.
"I'm really really tall and she's really really small. And I find most of my friends are either tiny or giant. I think we both know how it feels to live in a world where already something about you is noticeable - as opposed to people who are average height. Little people are always told 'you're so tiny!' and tall people are, the same way, relegated to a certain space."
"And I feel like because of that I'm so much more willing to accept her perspective on a lot of things because we start from a basis of 'you really do see the world much differently than I do... literally!'"
"I really wanted to get a pound puppy but my husband wanted to get a dog where we could predict more what we'd get. So this is called a golden doodle.They’re actually bred for this silliness. Our agreement was that what we paid for him, we would donate that amount to the SPCA or different charities like that. He brings so much pleasure to so many people. So many people just go ‘That’s the cutest dog I’ve ever seen! He looks like a stuffed animal!’ Or they say ‘He looks like I could sit down and have a conversation with him.’ And there are so many kids whose relationship to big dogs in their neighborhood is scary. So, because he’s so gentle, they’re sometimes able to overcome that."
“I’m the Princess of the KLA parade as the 7th grade leader. I’m very proud to have this spot - I actually worked very hard for it. I helped my teammates, I showed leadership, I campaigned a lot and I just hoped that I would win.”
“How does someone become a good leader?”
“Even when no one’s watching, you just show your integrity. Like if you’re in class and the teacher's teaching and everyone’s talking, you help your teammates pay attention."
"Horror is basically the center of my writing. I grew up watching Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’, and ‘Friday the Thirteenth’, and 'Nightmare on Elm Street’. All the horror, it kind of molded me to who I am today. It’s fun. […] And I’m trying to find a way to add relevance to my horror stories and more substance. So I take relevant stuff that touches people in the world and I try to let it flow through me. I just let whatever I feel go into my computer screen and sometimes it comes out good.”
“I used to be a lot more gothic looking… I mean I’ve toned it down a little bit, but I’ve always been attracted to that since I was a little kid. And walking through the French Quarter people make fun of you - like ‘I’ll give you five cents if you bite me and turn me into a vampire’ you know, stuff like that. And one time a guy was making fun of me for looking super vamp-y and it was during a football thing - like the Sugar Bowl, Super Bowl, something like that. And the man that was making fun of me had a diaper on that was striped the colors of his team with a Doctor Seuss hat to match, and naked otherwise. And I thought, ‘You’re making fun of me?! You’re not from here and you’re walking around town in a diaper and a Doctor Seuss hat that matches your football team.’ I felt really like I belonged here because I was easily able to look at him like, you know, whatever dude. I’ve always felt okay in my skin."
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.