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 friend got murdered in 2010 on St. Roch Avenue. I think the wake of that was the saddest I've ever been, because of the loss of a friend and because what should be societal help and support systems were very corrupt and very nonchalant.”
“Even though I’ve been homeless since August 1st, last night was the first night I had to sleep on the ground. I’m not as hopeful and cheery as I usually am. I’ve taken a blow to my self esteem and dignity. I got evicted out of my house. My house was 2,000 square feet and I pretty much ran a homeless shelter there. I took in anybody that looked like they didn’t have a place to stay."
“I have two children and both of them are wonderful kids. I just - that’s a point of pride for me. I enjoy being around them."
“What would be your advice for parents that want that kind of relationship?”
“Love your kids and don’t cling to them. Don’t get your self-worth from your kids. Don’t make them dependent upon you. Teach them to think for themselves and give them room to do that."
"We’re actually going to marry next year. I don’t know how I’m going to adjust myself to his culture because I'll have to live in India. For example, women can not wear the same clothes. We have to wear long dresses, we cannot wear short. When he said to me ‘you have to do like this when you come to India’ I was like ‘why do I have to follow that?’ But when I search more by myself about his culture, I feel more interested. You have to give your partner a chance to learn about your culture on their own."
"All my life I’ve been reared right here and there’s just something about New Orleans. I knew it pretty well and I was pretty well liked here as an individual. And I missed numerous people. A lot of them didn’t return, but still in all there was something about New Orleans. I wanted to return.”
“You want to hear my side of the story? I wanted to stay out in Atlanta and live out there. ‘Oh no, we going home' he said! I had to go with my husband. I wouldn’t let nobody else get him!"
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.