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.
“Do you remember the moment when you fell in love with music?”
“Hell yeah. I was like 4 or 5 years old and I was hanging out with my brother in our parents’ living room and he put on a Metallica CD when we had just gotten our first CD player. He started head-banging and I was trying to do it and he was like ‘No, you’re doing it all wrong.’ And he grabbed my head and showed me how to head-bang on beat with the song. After that I played air guitar to every song that came on the radio and begged my parents to get me a guitar until I finally got one when I was 12. I didn’t have a lot of friends and I played music and just met everyone. When I taught guitar I would tell my students ‘You know a guitar might just be a guitar to a lot of people, but to me it’s the only thing that made me come out of my shell and become the person that I am.’"
“I had a really great position at a company that moved everything to China… so I had to remake myself. Now I research the fungal diseases of blueberries. And she researches the contents of blueberries!”
“What do people who study blueberries stress out about?”
“Drosophila suzukii! The spotted-winged drosophila…”
"We stress out about fruit flies.”
"Before I started boxing and stuff I had bad grades, but now I’m making A’s and B’s. It teaches you discipline. Just because it’s just a sport doesn’t mean you can’t take something out of it in the real world.”
“What would you say to girls who want to be like you?"
“Don’t listen to what people tell you… whatever you put your mind to you can do it. No matter the fact that you’re a girl or not, you can do what the guys do."
"You know they have a lot of people that was wrongfully accused and did time in jail and got out and they only gave ‘em a bus ticket and ten dollars to go wherever… and they did all that time in jail for nothing. The saddest moment of my life was when I was wrongfully accused of second degree attempted murder. I was shot on the scene and I was an innocent bystander. My proudest moment was last Tuesday - we had a banquet for my business management leadership class at the JW Marriott on Canal and I got two awards for dedication and leadership. I’m about to graduate in December and I want to go to college and be a pediatrician."
"What do you teach your dad?"
"French! I'm going to be a French artist."
"And what are you going to be?"
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.