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.
"There's a paradox happening right now with the culture of New Orleans. The culture is in this moment of transformation and this disequilibrium. [After Katrina] it came back with strength because people thought maybe this was going to end and so they were paying attention to the rituals - jazz funerals, second lines, Mardi Gras Indians and all that. But if there is no real estate where these [culture bearers] can live, where the culture was born, what's going to happen to the culture? Culture is a function of people AND place.
Are Treme and all the other neighborhoods going to go the same way the French Quarter has gone? Because right now the French Quarter is - in my opinion - a theme park! All you have to do is look at these balconies. If you looked here 10 years ago, all these balconies had plants. But no one lives here anymore - it's too expensive. All this real estate is bought up by really wealthy people from all over the place. And they may come here one, two weeks out of the year - the rest of the time it's empty. Or, it's rented out for AirBnb or timeshare. So the result is you have an empty city, an empty French Quarter that is just a place where tourists come, rich people live or have a 'pied de terre' - a 'foot in the earth' where they come for a little while to have fun, but where nobody who really makes up the city lives. Those people have to live somewhere! So these people have to move far away - it's very stressful and it takes you hours just to get here. I think that's a big problem.
I'm not a politician or a journalist, I'm an artist - a photographer - and my wife is an artist. And we together talk about this in our art as a small contribution. This is what's happening right now and I think it's going to be very detrimental to the survival of the city. There are many cities that sold themselves to tourism and to commercialism in a very mindless, short-sighted, short-term way, and then they became just crappy towns with cheap tourism because the authenticity was lost. The texture was lost. And what was left was a facade."#nolabeings #neworleans Interviewed in collaboration with Lou. To see the artist's work, visitgozepa.com.
"I'm a makeup artist - I do eyebrows, lashes, waxing. I ride my bike back and forth to work. I have kid - she's about to be 2 - Nina Love. Her dad just went to jail - he turned himself in two days ago. So now I'm 23 with my baby on my own. It's hard. And two days before he went to jail, he even told me that the whole time we were in a relationship he was on coke. So I had all that love and stuff for him and now... I'm feeling sad."
"My love story is with my family. I stay with my daughter. Our relationship is so beautiful. My daughters, my sons, they're like my friends. I have some beautiful kids. I thank God for them. They're not out here doing nothing wrong. They'll give you their heart if you need it. I have six kids. I have five with me now, but one is missing because he's incarcerated. But it's just like he's here because I'm raising his son and he looks just like him. I make him run sometimes because he runs like his father. I make him run to remind me of my son. I had him since he was three years old, and now he's 15. That's my baby."
"Mother's Day is when people get together and they give their parents presents."
"What does your mom teach you?"
"My mom teaches me a lot of cool things. Like when I was little, she used to teach me pluses and math."
"When I was a baby, she was teaching me letters and how to spell my name."
"I love when she give my grandma a present and a Valentine's card."
"It's not Valentine's it's Mother's Day!"
"Oh yeah. A Mother's Day card."
Claire Bangser is a New Orleans-based freelance photographer and short filmmaker, and founder of the Roots and Wings Creative. Her work – spanning commercial and editorial projects – is centered around telling human stories powerfully. In February 2014, she started the popular New Orleans street portrait project NOLAbeings. Since then, her work has been featured by a wide range of media, including National Geographic, The New York Times, TIME, Wired, Glamour, Vox, Amazon’s DP Review, Le Parisien Magazine and New Orleans Magazine. Claire leads trips every summer for National Geographic Student Expeditions, where she teaches filmmaking and photography to high school students abroad.