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 had a wonderful community before Katrina. Walk out the door and you knew who lived there. Everybody knew everybody. I still love my city, but now you don’t know who is who anymore. You know what? I learned to understand now when they use the word 'community’ it’s not about the houses, it’s about the people. That’s what makes your community. If I had one wish - which I know would never happen - it's that some of the same people that we had surrounded ourselves with before Katrina, I wish that I could see some of those people again."
"I do floral work for weddings - bridal bouquets. On the other side of that, I’m a member of the Lords of Leather Mardi Gras krewe and I was Miss Louisiana Leather 2011.”
“I found a baby bird and no one would take it so I taught myself how to take care of it. And then I started working under another rehabilitator... so now I’m a weird bird lady. I have a million birds in my backyard."
“We met at another friend’s funeral actually."
“He was murdered at a bar on the West Bank.”
“Did that inform how you felt about crime in the city?”
“Not really. I have a very jaded outlook towards humanity in general just from being in the military. People are going to do stupid things no matter what you try to do. You can’t really enforce or force them to do anything. It’s all human nature and all free will.”
“They made up their own song. Their own family song. Sing your song for her.”
“I got my fa-mi-ly. Wait! 1, 2, 3. I got my faaa-mi-ly. Family. I got my faaa-mi-ly. I got my brothers, sisters, my mommy! My grandma! My daddy. I got my faaa-mi-ly."
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.