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.
"Growing up here stuff was kind of hard, dealing with a mother with a drug problem, I grew up not really having that much. I’m kind of proud that I didn’t let the streets get me, because at one point I was trending down the wrong way. When I was sixteen I went to LTI which was a place for juveniles. And I’d already had my first daughter - had her when I was fifteen. Being away from her for those six months really hurt me, so I knew that I needed to change. Before then I didn't care about anything, you know, I didn’t have nothing, I didn’t have no sense of direction. Once I had my daughter I knew that I had to change. That’s why I get out here and I work so hard to make sure that I take care of my kids. I landed the job at Brown’s Dairy when I was 19 - I’ve been 10 years there. By 20 I bought my first house, by 21 I bought a brand new car. And I also have this little side business called ‘Sweets in the Streets’ so I come out and sell candy when I have time and make extra money to help out with my children."
“I just want to make it in life.”
“What does ‘making it' mean to you?”
“The system is built for us to fail - I mean black people. They put us in places, they label us like we can’t make it, like we can’t do this and that. Like ‘They’re no good, they’re not able to work for nothing.’ And I just want to override that system and prove them wrong.”
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.