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.
"I mime for the church. When people are going through something, my job is to show them that everything is going to be alright - mimicking the words with strong movements, so they gonna feel it. […] You telling a story to someone else that it’s gonna be alright, but you’re also telling yourself. It goes through you to them. I’m getting tingly just thinking about it."
"When he was three months old, there was a CD that was in my car, and it was nothing that I would ever listen to, but I put it in. He was crying and as soon as the music started he stopped crying. Then I just started noticing that he had very particular songs that he liked, as I played different genres. Like I could play him rap, but he wanted the Pimp C, UGK, Jay-Z, Young Jeezy song only! He’s just been taking to music as I bring him around... He goes into a trance."
"I play drums. I started right here on Frenchman Street when it was only three or four places. […] My friend says ‘You don’t get tired of this scene?’ I say ‘No, I love it, I came up in this scene! I love to play music for the people!' You get to the point where you get a feeling for the people who come here to listen to you and listen to what you do and what you play and what you perform. So how can you feel bad about that? No way! In 2010 I suffered stroke, so I lost my left side. I thought ‘Would I be able to play again? Would I be able to do the things that I do?' Leon, a trumpet player who use to play with us, he had paralysis on his face from anesthesia, and he said he felt terrible playing the trumpet. I said, ‘You know you cannot give up. You gotta keep trying keep trying keep trying until one day you overcome that.' And that’s the same way I gotta do with this."
“I work as a lab tech at my county hospital so I usually wear scrubs and clogs."
"There was nothing but stress in his life and he was angry all the time. He would take it out on me and my brother and my mom. I remember [my parents] got in a fight one day and I was coming home from school and the police were at my house escorting my dad out so he couldn’t even get his stuff. I was like ‘What’s going on?’ and my mom wouldn’t tell me. She was just like ‘I called the cops on your dad. He’s moving out.’ Pretty much since I was a kid they were fighting and screaming and threatening to divorce each other so it was a relief really. Me and my mom stayed in a hotel for a week. That was one of the last few times I ever saw my dad. I saw him on a road trip last year when I was traveling the states, which was awesome. He’s a lot better than he was. Now that [my parents] are away from each other they’re both pretty decent, I guess."
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.