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 just became a grandfather! I got four children - I got two boys and my girls are 8 and 7, and I got a grandbaby that was born December the 19th. I’m 36. You always want to live to see that so it feels good - it’s a good thing - but it was kind of early.”
“I’ve learned a lot today! I was talking to this man in the library. He was talking to me about stuff like how did I do in school. And I opened the book in the library. My favorite books are Spongebob and Madea. I love the library because it’s special because we read to help us read. And we get movies to watch at home and we have to bring ‘em back. But it’s fun when we read.”
“What are you proud of?”
“Well. I’m most proud of three things. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of my mom, and my sister. And I’m proud of you. Like when you take your picture of me!"
“I hated books when I was a little girl. I was a very slow reader and so I wasn’t really interested in reading. I was always kind of in the clouds, just like, staring. I was kind of a ‘cancre' - I don’t know how you say that in English - but I was very bad in school. I remember the moment when I realized that books contained everything that I loved. I was older - in my 20s - and I was working in a photography museum in France and they were producing this digital art festival and I had to produce the catalogue. It contained all the interests that I had at that point. The first time when I printed a book and I received a whole box full of them, it was like giving birth, you know? I was so nervous - you receive the box and you just open it and you have this anxiety and at the same time it’s so exciting. And you see it and at the same time it doesn’t belong to you anymore. You’ve put so much of your time, so much of your energy, and you work with all these people to produce this… pile of paper… that’s going to travel, that’s going to last. And then once it’s there, it belongs to everybody else. You have to let go. And I just realized it’s so fascinating…. books are magical."
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.