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.
“You ever noticed that this city has a way about it that it just gets whatever the hell it wants? Like if it likes you, you’ll do well, and if it doesn’t like you, you’re screwed - you can try as hard as you want. That’s Mama NOLA making those decisions. I’ve tried to leave maybe three or four times, and every time I try, I get handed another opportunity that I’d be an idiot to pass up, and I stay for another year. I was literally supposed to be here for three days and that was three years ago.”
"I’m grateful for my parents because if I would have never had them, I would have never came up around this. I probably would have never picked up a horn or any of that. My dad used to play in high school, and my grandfather, he plays saxophone. Every time I see him he always asks me to play something.”
"My only investment is my children. I’ve raised them such a way - even though I’m driving a cab, I have a good amount of time I spend with them. I always talk to them about a lot of issues, you know? They are teenagers. They understand, they anticipate, they respect. I tell them ‘do whatever you want to do, as long as your interest is there.' I hope they get what they want.”
"You know, we was union men. Both of us used to be cement masons - construction workers. Poydras Street, Canal Street, Super Dome, the arena. As the years passed, all they want to do is pay you $12 an hour. At the end of the day and the end of your life, you don’t have no social security, no pension, nothing. You don’t have nothing. You work 65 years of your life and this is all you got. New Orleans put on a big ol' front, but it’s all about the people making the money."
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.