Claire Bangser of NOLAbeings
The new book The Art of Discovery: Hollywood Stars Reveal Their Inspirations,
featuring photos by Jeff Vespa, is a set of portraits and personal stories of celebrities meant to inspire readers. At the book's launch party next Wednesday, Nov. 19, though, event organizers are turning the mirror back on readers, with an interactive photo project with Claire Bangser
, the creator of NOLAbeings
NOLAbeings, which was inspired by the popular internet presence Humans of New York
and started last February, gives followers a portrait a day of a person in New Orleans and allows that person to tell his or her own story. Sometimes the posts include a guiding question ("What do you teach your sister?" "What are you afraid of?"), and sometimes the responses are sad, and still sometimes the responses are funny, endearing, edgy and brave.
NOLAbeings has close to 5,000 followers on Instagram, but many people might not realize that the team behind the camera is really one woman: Claire Bangser, who's driven not only by an eye for photography but also by a love of honest, personal stories. "I want to force the audience to reconsider preconceptions and stereotypes and to interact with their neighbors more," says Bangser. "And to listen...I love listening to stories. And I think for many of the NOLAbeings I talk to, there's something sort of therapeutic about reflecting on their lives and experiences and sharing that and having someone listen. That's something that doesn't happen as much as we'd like to believe - listening."
The event takes place at the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel
(817 Common St.) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is completely free. Bangser will be taking portraits and there will also be Old New Orleans Rum
-infused treats from Plum Street Snoballs
and coffee and beignets from the New Orleans Coffee and Beignet Company
. It's open to the public, but you will need to RSVP here
, and space is limited.