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.
“My mother was always scared when I went out somewhere that I would come back with another dog.”
“Did that happen?”
"A couple years ago I went up to the Louisiana delta on an assignment with Teach for America. I was assigned to the Greater New Orleans corps but actually assigned to a satellite region that’s 250 miles north of here. After a couple months of it, I found myself to be so miserable and so completely out of my element that I ended up resigning and coming down here. I guess the reason why that sort of cast a larger shadow than almost any other memory that I can think back to, was that it wasn’t a failure that felt like it uniquely affected me. It felt like I was abandoning the students that I was teaching – although to be fair, the teacher that replaced me was actually a woman from the area who had lost her job probably because of Teach for America and was probably better equipped to be teaching these kids than I was. Nevertheless, it was a combination of being put into a situation that I never should have been put into and also the realization that - in the aftermath of post-college anxieties, trying to find a job and trying to do something that was in some way going to cater to my ideals - I had landed myself in a position that in no way really aligned with where my life was headed. One of the realizations that I had about successful and really inspiring teachers is that it takes a certain willingness to put the dreams and aspirations of your students above your own dreams, and that was something that I came to realize I couldn’t bring myself to do."
"I realized that I’m very comfortable with people who have a lot to say, because then I don’t have to say anything at all. I have a lot to say, but I don’t necessarily have the right situations, so I just wait for a good situation. I say things when they’re important. And there’s a lot I think is not that important to say."
"I was here when the storm happened. We moved to Houston for a month and then we came back to help and reconstruct New Orleans. I think that the Latin community is helping a lot. We are working hard… it’s never an easy job. Where we’re working right now I saw three work accidents. [...] It’s dangerous. It was not my dream to come here, but right now I have to go straight."
"When the horn blows, I'll get on my knees and pray - thank God I made it to 2015."
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.