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.
"This city is like a black hole man. I’m about to move to Pasadena. I’m going to book a hotel and try to find a job in like three days.”
“There’s a really cute girl out there. No bullshit dude… I’m going to go out there, see what happens, if it doesn’t work out I’ll come back here. I got a whole country at my fingertips. I can do whatever I want. Like eat these cheese fries. They’re pretty dank, yo.”
“Tell me about the girl..."
"Her name’s Destiny. My destiny, she’s Destiny, I don’t know. It’s pretty cliche but I’m going to go with it. She’s real cool. I follow the wind, and the wind blows to the west this time of year. I think."
"We grew up together. We're like cousins, brothers. We played basketball... catch girls, kiss a little bit! Ha! It's like a game when you're young. All the boys catch the girls and whoever you find, that's your girlfriend."
"One time when we were 5, 6 years old, he bit me right here on the side. Chewed me up!"
"Why'd you bite him?!"
"He took my frozen cup!"
“I’ve always been a romantic, just because I saw my parents have a good, strong lasting relationship and so I assumed that the first person you meet and fall in love with would be the one right person for you. And I’ve gone through a couple relationships where I’ve just laid everything out to make something work that just wasn’t really working. I was with one girlfriend for four years, two of which we were in and out of the relationship. [The last year of it] we got into an open relationship because while she didn’t want to be exclusive with me and had found that she was bisexual, she still had strong feelings for me. […] That was just the most stressful fucking year, because the whole time I was just trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a jealous wreck. It was a constant renegotiating process. She was always very upfront about what she needed and wanted, but I just wasn’t hearing her. I kept wanting her to come to my terms. And it just never happened. We spent a month living together in this one room I had in a friend’s apartment. It was probably one of the best short periods of our relationship - just domestic, getting along really well and having a lot of fun. And then she went to Burning Man. And while she was gone I spent two weeks reflecting on all of our time in an open relationship […] and it made me realize - 'I don’t want to be in an open relationship, I just want to be in a relationship with her.' And she came back from Burning Man and - literally - the first thing she told me after ‘Hello, it’s good to see you’ was ‘I met somebody at Burning Man and I really love him. I still want to be with you and I just wanted to let you know.’ And that was the day we broke up. It was the last day of summer in 2012. We didn’t talk - we weren’t even in the same city - for the next three years. That’s the reason I moved from Seattle in some way. I needed a fresh start. I had been investing so much energy into this relationship and it had been at the expense of me even thinking about what I wanted to do with my life."
"It’s an awkward thing… I’m going to be a nurse. Then after the nurse I’m going to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher because I get to teach children how to do their homework and stuff and I can help them out."
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.