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.
“Today I am St. Nicholas […]. His feast day is celebrated tomorrow so down in the French Market they had a big festival in order to celebrate. But my [real] name is Shoeless, and the reason people call me Shoeless is because I never ever wear shoes. These are boots – ‘bootless’ is Shakespearean. That’s a loophole. If I’m on the clock, I’ll wear just about anything. But in my real life, had you ever met me, I would not be wearing shoes. I was born without shoes… it’s kind of sad.”
“My favorite family memory would be the Christmas that it snowed. That was in 2004 before Hurricane Katrina hit. We were staying in what was called ‘back of town,’ then. And we were just so surprised to see the snow, and they were playing in the snow. It was just amazing. I always try to make memories. You know memories can never be taken away, no matter what. And I try to love everybody, because that’s what is missing in the world.”
“I’m just getting ready for Christmas for my son and stuff. He’s 13 years old. He’s a very sweet helpful child. And he’s doing okay in school – we could do better – but other than that he’s a real good child. He’s a gentleman at a young age. He opens the door for almost everybody, even men sometimes, which I feel is a little awkward. I guess I taught him too well! He’s just a sweet child. [For Christmas] it’s usually just the two of us, but this year we have a new addition to the family – my fiancé, who on the phone right now. He says hello!”“Tell me about your fiancé.”“We went to high school together – we ‘knew’ each other but we didn’t know each other. We actually met at a gas station one night and we just kind of click- clacked so well, so perfect to where it felt like I’d known him forever. He says (on the phone) we haven’t left each other’s side since. We really haven’t! And the wedding is maybe next year. So he’s our new addition to the family.”
“Peace and love to all beings.”