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.
“Drew Brees knows who I am. For three years I pranked the Saints rookies. Coach Payton would give all the Saints players a ticket to go get a turkey at Rouses. And I would play the store manager and act like I didn’t believe that the rookies were really Saints players. My favorite one was Jimmy Graham. Jimmy Graham’s like ‘I don’t have to explain to you or anybody who I am!’ and I’m like ‘Well you actually do if you want these turkeys.' It was kind of comical but also kind of belittling to have these big huge guys yelling at me."
"I’m the first child out of five and my mom was a single parent. I said, ‘When I ever grow up, I’m going to own my own house.’ And the dream came true. It’s exciting. You’re going to really think I’m cuckoo and insane. I first walked through the back door, I went down on my knees, I was crying. I was like, ‘This my room?’ I said, ‘Oh lord!' And the neighbors was seeing me crying because I had all the lights on ‘cause I came in at night time. And the people was at the stop sign looking at me and I was like ‘Ahhhh! This is my house!! I’m your neighbor now!’"
"I’m 28 years old and I have four kids, and the father of my kids, he stole my innocence. He stole everything that was good of me. He’s like a vampire. I had to regenerate and reintegrate myself because I wasn’t going to let what he did tear me down. I don’t want to be victimized and play the victim. I’m not going to play the victim. I want to be a fighter. There’s a lot of women out here that are suffering, that feel like they have to be enslaved to a man for survival when they don’t."
“I feel like after you go through heartbreak you’re supposed to be wiser. You’re supposed to have words of wisdom. And I feel like coming out the other side of it - and I’m still so in it I’m not even on the other side yet - it’s like… when am I going to be wise? When am I going to be past this? And I don’t know. You’re in it until you’re not… it’s just another thing that you don’t have control over. That’s such a big thing right now for me - having acceptance of the things I have control over, but really having acceptance of the things that I don’t have control over… which is so much."
"I want to be a scientist or someone who puts people in coffins.”
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.