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 were just in Jackson, Mississippi, and now we’re [recording stories] here, and then we’re in Omaha and just keep moving.”
“What have you noticed about the New Orleans stories?"
"The thing we were just noticing today was that everybody loves this place. They’re so dedicated to this city. There’s just something that keeps them here and keeps them coming back. The way they talk about it isn’t just like a place, it’s like a living entity.”
“The best part is that it doesn’t feel like an exclusive club. It feels like everyone we meet is inviting us into that. They want us to be a part of it."
(Read about StoryCorps on NolaVie here)
"Just working, going through a divorce, paying bills. Learning sometimes it's not good to love too hard."
"I always knew how to save. When my husband died, 1970, my baby was 9 years old and I was working the school board but I never stopped working. I was getting Social Security - I never stopped working. 'Cause I know one thing: that check didn't come but once a month and I was saving. And I'm glad today I did because I was able to buy my house and I didn't owe nobody nothing. I'm 89 years old and I thank God every night I go to bed that I'm blessed. My grandmother died at 89, couldn't walk, you know... and I took care of her. So I was blessed, really blessed. Sometimes I think about it, I say, at my age, I can do things that young people can't even do. Like cooking for yourself... I don't have to ask nobody to do nothing for me. My grandmother died at 89, I'm 89, and I'm getting around better than she was so I don't know when I'm going but I think I'm going to make 100. I dance... I drink! I don't let nothing stop me, child, I keep going."
"Music helps you. Music settles you, you know what to put on to put you in a certain kind of mood. When I put my son to sleep I sing to him because I know that’s gonna get him to sleep. You need [music] everyday ‘cause you going through something every day."
“I grew up on oysters, I love ‘em. I could eat 20 dozen right now! My whole life I was raised on ‘em. I can always remember my daddy opening ‘em up in the yard. My uncle had an oyster bar and every Sunday they’d play ball and they argued and fought - all my uncles - and after the game we’d go by the oyster bar and as fast as they’d open ‘em, I’d be eating ‘em!"
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.