Editor’s Note: 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.
“God gave me a second chance on life. I was in a bad bad accident. 1997, June 17, I was dropped 20 feet by a crane out on the oil rig, with Diamond Offshore Drilling Company. I was so big I couldn’t tie my shoe. I had five surgeries and six epidurals, where they go in behind your neck. Now I swim 100 laps every morning and I ride my bike seven miles every day. I got a second chance on life, but my wife is suffering with breast cancer and stuff, and it’s my turn to take care of her.”
“Tell me about your wife.”
“God sent me an angel, he really did. It’s a fact. For all what I went through she was there. And now she’s sick and guess what? I’m there. So God is good, but God work in mysterious ways. Some people should pay attention and the world would be better.”
“This is a 1979 Seville Cadillac designed by Gucci – they only made 200 of ‘em. It’s 38 years old and it’s my toy. I bought it 20 years ago.”
“You got money from the accident?”
“Not really, I got God. All good things come to those who wait. The guy who owned it before me drove it down the street one day after church. I was standing on my corner, and believe me, here comes this man in this car. I never knew it was Gucci. He had a ‘for sale’ sign in the window, and I told him to hold this car for me. He wanted $6500. I got it for six thousand.
I just take care – we was raised to take care of what you got, no matter how old it is. The engine – you can eat off the engine, that’s how clean it is. You see? Other people would would change it, put big tires on it. It’s original. You’ve seen the book for yourself.”
This is Roxy. You should know her.