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.
"Betcha ain’t never seen this pose before. Nobody in the whole country does this pose. I’m the sidewalk Saint."
“I just recently started writing because I had a lot of things in me - I’ve never been a good public speaker or talker but I had to get this stuff out, so I tried writing and it just flowed. I really want my brothers and sisters to realize that we do have a voice, we do have power whether we know it or not. Because you know, I’m only fifteen and if this can happen to me, why can’t it happen to you?”
“My twin brother is my everything. We can’t read each other’s minds, but we have the same dreams now. We dream we’re in our house from when we were younger with our mom and our dad. We float in our house. Our house turns blue and we just float. And every time we get to the bottom of the staircase in that dream, I wake up. We have that dream at the same time once or twice every year. So I want to find a dream book because I want to be able to point to it and see what my life is telling me at that time."
“I came here and lived with friends who bought a gutted house, so I lived there for free and helped them work on [it]. Until that point I had never even used a power tool - I didn’t know anything. And now I’ve gotten really into it and started doing some woodworking and making tables. At points it’s super frustrating because you want every angle to be perfect and it’s so hard in New Orleans because nothing is level, even if you measure perfectly. But at the end when you’re like ‘I made that!’ it’s really exciting.”
“Ok listen - what I’d like for you to say is that it’s the common people in the community that make this city what it is... the people from all of the hardship neighborhoods that gives this city it’s charisma, its flavors and its backbone. Whether we from the ninth ward or uptown, these are the people that hold this city together from its core. We all need each other and when the chips are down, these are the people we depend on, who never run. It takes all kinds of people and that’s what we have here in NOLA. Print that!"
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.