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 favorite family memory would be the Christmas that it snowed. That was in 2004 before Hurricane Katrina hit. We were staying in what was called 'back of town,' then. And we were just so surprised to see the snow, and they were playing in the snow. It was just amazing. I always try to make memories. You know memories can never be taken away, no matter what. And I try to love everybody, because that's what is missing in the world."
"Peace and love to all beings."
"I figured if I could dance to the music, I could make the music. Every time I'm down, my bounce music lifts me right back up. One particular year, all our family members kept dying and getting killed. So that's when I went into the studio and just did a bunch of songs, shot videos. It still hurt, but it helped lift me from being in that sad, depressed moment. It's upbeat. They call me Ninth Ward Judy. Look up my song 'Honeybee.' That's the most popular one. I shot it across the river for Mardi Gras time."
"We feed the homeless on Claiborne under the bride; we do toy giveaways across the river. Trying to get with the city to find out what we can do, what we need to do, and how we can give back to our communities. You know, I work with a lot of young kids because I work at Walmart. People call me the 'pharmacy guy,' that's what they call me. I treat people how they're supposed to be treated, regardless of how they feel, or whatever. I have kids that I see where I'm like their father figure or a mentor. I reach out to people. I like the elderly too. They love me; I love them. We all need help - I can take what I know and help somebody else." (Man of far left)
"When I was 28 I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life. And I actually found my list recently, and I think there were only two things I had not done on that list. I wanted to have two children, I had twins. I wanted to travel, I've done that. I had like 20 things on my list [...] I just turned 62, and I got my second social security check recently. So now I need to make a new list."
"What is the first thing you'll put on your new list?"
"The first thing will be... to not grow old. I don't want to be old, I want to be young."
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.