Sharing Stories by Claire Bangser in New Orleans, Louisiana

Photographer Claire Bangser’s street portraiture has us totally inspired. Why? Her work documents the stories of the lives of people in New Orleans, and the stories are real life -raw and unfiltered. Learn more about this amazing community at and follow along @nolabeings.

Name:Claire Bangser

Place you live: New Orleans, Louisiana

Occupation: Photographer and videographer

Preoccupation: Asking strangers to tell me stories.

Place your Instagrams were taken? New Orleans

Can you sum up New Orleans? New Orleans to me is un-‘sum-up’-able. You just have to experience it.

What is a perfect day in New Orleans? I love those days where you just follow your whims and end up somewhere you never would have planned. Usually for me that involves a long walk or bike ride, some weird or interesting or profound interactions with strangers, and running into friends and then wandering with them. I guess on my perfect day, there would also be a second line to stumble into. And ice cream.

If New Orleans was a person or character who would it be and why? This lady. I met her at a second line last year. She is beautiful and lively on the outside, but below the surface there is a deeper history that she won’t unravel for you all at once, even if she does share stories that make you fall in love. She seems like someone you need many years to really know. New Orleans is like that too.

How long have you been using Instagram? Four years-ish, but my first posts (on my personal account) were a series of photos of goofy happy birthday illustrations I took to send to my grandpa, so I guess I hadn’t really figured it out yet.

Do you shoot with your phone or other cameras or both? Almost all of my photos on NOLAbeings are taken with my Canon 5d Mark ii and a 50mm f/1.8 lens. On my personal account, it’s mostly iPhone stuff.

What is your editing process? I edit my images on my computer with Lightroom.

Has Instagram/phoneography affected how you shoot? You know, I don’t really like or care about the “likes” game, but it is kind of cool to have the objective feedback of likes and comments on a regular basis because it helps me to gauge and understand what moves people and what doesn’t. Sometimes I’ll really like an image, but other people won’t respond to it as much. And I’ll realize that my experience with that image has a lot to do with the in-person experience I associate with it (something my viewers wouldn’t know). So I think I’m constantly working harder to find ways to capture someone’s personality and find those little, hard-to-identify quirks that tell you something deeper about their story.

Can you give a couple tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? I guess this doesn’t apply as much to fine art photography, but one of my tenets for the material I share is to be really really real. I see a lot of people curating their online personas with images intended to make their lives look perfect. I think that’s boring. I’m much more interested in the self-contradicting or funny or hard or awkward or subtle truths that we experience through our own unique lenses on the world. I guess what I’m saying is that I love that social media allows us to see through someone else’s eyes, and I’m tired of seeing their lattes.

Who are your three favorite Instagrammers? @jr, @misterwidmer, @daniahany.

Want more Instagram tips and inspiration? Check out all of our Best of Instagram features and learn from the masters.

Want to be featured on our best of Instagram series and bask in the glory? Follow Global Yodel on Instagram and tag your best local shots with #GlobalYodel!


Name:Claire Bangser

City:New Orleans

Best place to eat:

Tan Dinh Vietnamese food. Many people don’t realize that New Orleans has one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam!

Best place to drink:

Pal’s Lounge

Best outdoor activity:

Climbing the Tree of Life in Audubon Park (one of the oldest, most epic oak trees in the south). Or taking a hike in Jean Lafitte park. Or dancing through the streets with a second line for a few hours.

Must do:

Get off Bourbon street! Walk around neighborhoods like Bayou St John and Treme that are less touristy than the French Quarter, but still beautiful and historic. Strike up conversations with locals.

Local tip:

Don’t plan too much! There is so much fun spontaneous stuff to experience in this city, that you’ll miss out on if you have booked up all your hours. Stroll around, get lost, talk to strangers and go where they tell you to go. And rent a bike. Best way to see the city.