Southern Exposure by Lee Rankin in Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta, Georgia, a forward-pointing city with a rich and intricately complex past. Known for its deep-fried foods, the fight for civil rights, vibrant entertainment, faith-based societies and football fanaticism, all of which contribute to the unique flavor of southern living. Metro Atlanta sprawls into multiple counties and zip codes, each dictating varying daily experiences. But dearly-held traditions and strong values are the common threads that link communities, giving Atlanta its character and the warm personality of a neighbor welcoming you into their home.

With the world’s busiest airport in its backyard, Atlanta is called the Gateway to the American South or, simply by its call letters, the ATL. Syrupy summer heat and all-too-frequent traffic jams provide year-round topics for idle chatter, but this city is much more than the view from your air conditioned vehicle. Stroll along downtown side streets, or take an intentional detour off Peachtree Road, and you’ll make some awesome, made-for-social-media discoveries.

Massive, thoughtfully-curated murals – some paying homage to those who’ve shaped this city, others simply left for artistic interpretation – add colorful splashes to Atlanta’s urban canvas. Manicured public parks, adorned with lush greenspace and commissioned public art, create natural gathering places for neighbors to exchange a polite “Hey!” or quick smile.

In late summer, football fans rejoice when the season begins. Weekends normally reserved for family and faith now include tailgating and cheering for your alma mater and favorite players. It’s a fun time of year that playfully pits friends and family members against each other for the sake of their beloved teams.

But where football divides, food unites. Atlanta’s reputation for great dining has grown to match its celebrated nightlife. All-star chefs and nationally-rated restaurants have brightened the spotlight on Atlanta’s culinary scene. However, it’s the ‘round-the-corner restaurants and family suppers, complete with a glass of sweet tea or ice-cold Coke, which birthed the long-standing sentiment of southern hospitality.

Traditionalism rings with pride and “Cause that’s the way it’s always been done” still resonates, but in keeping with the times, Atlanta is growing tremendously. In coming years, both the Braves and Falcons will build technology-advanced stadiums, the doors to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame will open, residents will move throughout downtown on the Atlanta Streetcar and the Atlanta Beltline will ultimately connect forty-five of Atlanta’s in-town communities.

Experiencing the traditions, while witnessing the progress, is what’s most exciting about living in Atlanta. Keeping the balance between old and new creates tensions that make for great political and economic theater. But differences aside, almost everyone here wants what’s best for the city and those who love it. This is why Atlanta’s motto, Resurgens, is so well-fitting. Latin for rising again and symbolized by an elevating phoenix, it represents the city’s rebirth from the aftermath of the Civil War. Though Atlanta stands on solid footing today, it wants to be known as the city that is continuously rising. It’s always striving to grow and improve. Simply, Atlanta wants to be better.

Atlanta, Georgia, or simply, the ATL, is a city that sprawls into multiple communities and neighborhoods, so the look and feel of the city varies depending on your vantage point. However, the city’s history, culture, sports and food provide common bonds that keep people connected. With these photos, my goal is to provide some unique visual perspectives, as well as help tell the story of this great southern city.

Name:Lee Rankin



Discovering amazing displays of creativity in unusual places.

Tell us about the place you live:

Atlanta, Georgia is regarded as the capital of the American south. Nicknamed “Hotlanta” due to the unforgiving summer heat, it’s a city with a deep and complex history that has grown into a cultural hub known for dining, music, entertainment, sports and art. Sprawling into various suburbs and neighborhoods, the city represents something slightly different for every resident and visitor. But with time-honored traditions and community values working as bonding threads, Atlanta is a place that many of us lovingly call home.

A perfect day?

On a spring afternoon, strolling through one of Atlanta’s many music, food and art festivals. Nothing compares to grabbing a bite to eat and sipping a cool drink while taking in the sights and sounds of people living to the rhythm of the city.

What is the best thing about your spot?

Delicious food, vibrant art scene and great social activities – all topped with a touch of southern hospitality.

What is the worst?

Too-frequent traffic jams.

What would be surprising about this place to an outsider?

Atlanta has a great art scene. Anchored by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta has dozens of galleries, organizations and events that celebrate the arts year-round. From the monthly Castleberry Hill Art Stroll to the annual National Black Arts Festival and Living Walls conference, Atlanta’s art community caters to a diverse genres and mediums, providing locals and visitors with lots to admire.

Who are three of your favorite artists?

Band: OutKast, Writer: George Orwell, Designer: Philippe Starck


Name:Lee Rankin


Favorite place to eat:

Atlanta has many great restaurants and bars, but I would recommend the Atlanta Food Truck Park & Market. With up to 15 different trucks, all serving a variety of cuisines including BBQ, Mexican, Indian and Vietnamese, you can mix and match several tasty dishes and experience a little bit of everything that Atlanta’s culinary scene has to offer.

Favorite place to drink:

P’cheen International Bistro & Pub

Favorite shop:

Savvy Snoot

Local Tip:

Use the Atlanta Beltline to walk to events. Atlanta is very car-dependent, so traffic congestion is routine. During events, traffic can be excruciating. By parking your car in an adjacent neighborhood and then walking along the Atlanta Beltline, you can save yourself time and headache while exploring parts of the city you cannot see from your car.

Must Do:

View the city from the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel’s Sundial Restaurant. The 360-degree panoramic view of Atlanta is absolutely gorgeous.