Roots & Wings Creative was started in 2016 by New Orleans creative Claire Bangser to bridge the mediums of filmmaking and photography around the central theme of telling meaningful human stories. Working in collaboration with other talented New Orleans artists and storytellers, Roots & Wings Creative builds upon Claire's existing body of work, including her New Orleans-based project, NOLAbeings, while shifting the focus from making 'pretty pictures' to telling important and moving narratives visually.
I have worked as a full time freelance photographer and short filmmaker since mid 2012. My work - spanning commercial and editorial projects - is centered around telling human stories powerfully. In February 2014, I started the popular New Orleans street portrait project NOLAbeings and have interviewed well over 1,000 people in New Orleans alone. Since then, my work has been featured by a wide range of media, including National Geographic, The New York Times, TIME, Wired, Glamour, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Amazon's DP Review, Le Parisien Magazine, Thrillist, New Orleans Magazine, TEDx, Vox, Country Roads Magazine and Cornucopia Magazine.
I lead trips every summer for National Geographic Student Expeditions, where I teach filmmaking and photography to high school students abroad. I have led trips to the Mediterranean (2013), the French and Swiss Alps (2014-2016) and Iceland (2016).
Get to know me a bit through this video by Amazon's DP Review in which I field test a new camera along the Mississippi Blues Trail:
About the name:
When I was a kid, my favorite book was Max Makes A Million by Maira Kalman. It's an incredible book - one of those children's books that adults love too because of the well-told (funny) story and beautiful illustrations. Max is a dog whose dream is to live in Paris and become a poet... but it just doesn't seem possible. He lives in New York with his eccentric parents and spends his time at their lofty art parties. While his parents love him and support him and give him roots - Max is itching to live his own dream, fulfill his own destiny. So he writes constantly. He writes his own witty words and wild poems, and he recites them to anyone who will listen. Max is a bit of a crazy dog.
But then, at the end of the story, Max is suddenly presented with the opportunity to fulfill his dream and move to Paris. He says to his parents "You gave me roots, now you're giving me wings. Roots and wings, roots and wings. I gotta go, Daddy-o!"
My dad re-read this passage to me when I finished high school, the night before I left home to move 1500 miles away to college in St. Louis, and we all teared up in that laughing-and-crying sorta way over our dinner plates.
The line has stuck with me in the 12 years since I left home - roots and wings, roots and wings.
As I travel and meet new people, I am humbled constantly by my smallness. I hold these words to ground me. I am moved by the depth of roots that people are willing to dig up and share. With each person I interview and each moment I document through my camera and my mic, my goal is to listen, to observe, to seek depth and authenticity. Through sharing these stories, I hope to give them wings.