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 have been studying Shakespeare for probably the last 25 years. I've read maybe 20 hours a week of Shakespeare for the last 15 years. And I lecture high school students and AP students about Shakespeare. It’s not my business, I just do it for fun. I just love Shakespeare. I have reams of material about him... Some of it would curl your hair.”
"I’ve always loved animals but I never got to have them as a kid. My mom’s not an animal person. When I got older I really wanted to get a dog, so I lived in a 200 square foot studio in New York with a 200 pound dog I got on Craigslist. I moved here in October and I got this little guy here from ARNO, Animal Rescue New Orleans. And for a big dog and a small dog they get along really well!"
“My dad was in the Air Force for 36 years and so patriotism and the military is really important to me. He missed my 16th birthday because he was in Iraq and two years before that he was in Kuwait to serve. It was a lot of phone calls, texting, emails. I felt proud that my father was serving our country but also scared, nervous... would we be the ones getting the letter or someone coming to our door? I was so thankful when he came home."
“Big Chief Allison ‘Tootie' Montana is my grandfather. He taught me how to sew when I was a little child. I was his eyes. Everywhere we went, I was always under his shoulder, and he would tell people that I was his eyes. […] When it came to talking he could run his mouth for hours. So I used to tell him 'I'mma give your mouth a chill pill!' I used to always tell him that even in front of other people, and of course they turned it into a little joke ‘cause I was a child. All he did was talk. He loved to talk, he loved to tell stories.”
"My little brother went to hanging with the wrong people. They wanted to get him loaded. They put him on dope. They had him out here bam - stealing, robbing, running in people's houses, just for him to be down with them. He started when he was like 11 or 12. Boom boom. He had a gun. I’m going to keep it real - once he got loaded he was like Illuminati - like everything must be sacrificed. I don’t know why he felt like that. He just was a young punk. He was trying to live fast. And I told him, 'you live fast, you die young'. He didn’t make it to 19. He barely made it to 18. It shouldn’t have happened. You grew up seeing people sell drugs, people kill people, and in the midst you're programmed. What you see is what you grow up to do."
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.