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.
"I've been here 25 years. The Ballet Company brought me down. I danced professionally for ten years and then retired. It was fun. You danced through pain. But then there's thirteen year olds trying to take roles away from you because they don't care about falling... You know, when you get older, you care about falling sometimes!"
"I was working in the sheriff's office, in the medical department. Everything from the intake to the release to the stay and everything about working in the criminal jail made me interested in how we could do it better. So I'm majoring in criminal justice."
"What do you think about criminal justice in New Orleans?"
"In all of the aspects, we can do better. All the way around the board. We can do better. That's all I'm going to say."
"I joined a group called the New Orleans Hash House Harriers - it’s a drinking club with a running problem, ever heard of ‘em? We have someone called the Hare that sets a trail with flour. Ten minutes after he leaves, the ‘Hounds’ go find trail. Somewhere on the middle of the trail there’s a beer stop and you drink beer. And you get to the end and we circle up and sing adult songs. The person running the circle is a ‘Religious Advisor’ or ‘RA’. People that are in charge of the group are called ‘Mis-management’ - it’s a fun group. It’s expanded my social circle. Louis, our Krewe captain, brought me into this Krewe, ‘Krewe Rue Bourbon’, which is a sub-crewe of Krewe du Vieux. This year our theme is XXXtra terrestrials."
(Mom:) “He’s talking about his autobiography already.”
“What’s it going to be about?”
“I don’t know… me!”
“What’s one thing you’re going to put in it?”
“Um… I like the color blue.”
“What about you? Have you thought about your autobiography?”
“Yes. It’ll be about my life. And... I dress up nice."
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.