Creator, NOLAbeings; Summer Film and Photography Leader, National Geographic Student Expeditions; Freelance Photographer & Filmmaker

Visual storyteller Claire Bangser has always enjoyed striking up conversations with strangers. “I feel blessed to have a whole spectrum of people that I’ve met through random encounters that have had a profound effect on my life,” she says. A world traveler, Bangser says that she connects her experiences with her perspective that “many of the unjust things in the world are derived from a lack of empathy and understanding.”

As a photographer and filmmaker, her goal is to break down the sentiment of “otherness” by creating images that draw
the viewer to have a profound human connection or experience with an “other.”

Inspired by Brandon Stanton, the creator of the wildly popular Humans of New York website that posts brief, touching interviews with all types of people accompanied by portraits, Bangser started a similar project here called NOLAbeings.

“I love every part of the process,” she says, “from meeting the people, to interviewing them, to photographing them and then going home and listening to the recordings and editing photos. The process helps me internalize their messages even more deeply. … It’s such a joy.” This fall, after she returns home from a National Geographic Student Expedition for which she’s a film and photography leader, she hopes to expand NOLAbeings to incorporate film interviews with its subjects.