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 brother died in an accident in 2006 and the last concert I saw with him was the Bruce Springsteen concert here in 2006. And it’s a memory that will always live with me. I feel his spirit here and the spirit of all my other friends who have died. You know their spirits are here.” "Has the feeling of JazzFest changed over the decades?" "Oh yes. More people. It used to be more like a family picnic and now it’s people fighting for real estate."
“We have a rack - like a bed - and I post pictures of my wife, my dog, my family up there so I can see them before I go to bed and right when I wake up. It makes me feel good. I’ve been in port less than 300 days in the last four years and change, and I’ve been under way over eleven hundred days - away from home. Now [my wife] is pregnant actually - she’s due October 21st [...] so I’ll be transferring to shore duty so I won’t be going out to sea for the next three years."
"There’s one librarian - he’s the nicest man I ever met. Everybody really like him. You can go to him and ask him anything. [Usually] you can tell when somebody go over their limit of being nice and stuff like that, but when people get rude to him, he don’t get smart with them. He just knows how to handle the situation. Most people would say ‘get out’ but he’s real patient-like."
"There was a young man years ago and his name sticks with me to today - his name was Percy and he was one of my students. He was not as strong in the academic area as he needed to be, but he was an awesome athlete. And many times he’d gotten kind of pushed on the side because many people thought it was a behavior problem. But I never really had any problems with him because I found a niche, I found that core that he was drawn to, and that was that through physical education and being an athlete he began to actually improve in his academic subject areas. I think it’s for us as educators and us as a people to recognize that all of our children don’t have the same strengths. So if we find one - that even if he’s lacking in one area - we find that one thing that he or she is passionate about and we allow them to grow and develop that, and then gradually add on and help them to apply that, we would see a lot more growth in our children. We would see a lot more change in our children and a desire to actually want to continue to move forward and stay in school.”
“I want to be a policeman.”
“‘Cause when people are bad and when people steal stuff and when people have guns you take ‘em to jail. And I’ll buy handcuffs.”
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.