We’re blessed in Atlanta to have thousands of delicious restaurants, but when that age-old question pops up, “Where do you want to eat?”, it leaves most of us stumped. Good thing there’s Alyssa Fagien. You might not recognize her name, but chances are you already know her. Alyssa runs ATL Bucket List, an Instagram account that has developed a cult-like following for the delectable, beautifully composed photos she takes of Atlanta’s coolest meals, as well as fun events and places to explore. And now that IG account has grown to include her similarly named blog as well as other social media outlets. Get to know the woman behind the camera, Alyssa Fagien, our newest FACE of Atlanta.
How did you end up in Atlanta from Florida? What was the draw?
Before moving to Atlanta in 2014, I had lived in Florida my entire life. I knew I wanted more of a city feel, and I hated (still hate!) the cold, so Atlanta seemed like the perfect fit. I visited once before moving here, and after one walk around Piedmont Park, I was sold. I always told my parents it would be for just a few years and then they could expect me back in Florida, but it’s safe to say Atlanta has stolen my heart, and I don’t see myself leaving any time soon.
You started your successful Instagram account, ATL Bucket List, in 2015 (which has grown into a popular destination blog). What do you credit for your popularity and surge of followers?
I credit my success to three main things: timing, community management and authenticity. In 2015 there were few “influencers” posting about food (or other topics for that matter) in Atlanta. This gave me a huge advantage, as competition was low. Since then, it seems hundreds, maybe even thousands, of new accounts have popped up, making it really difficult to grow an account, even with amazing content! Next is community management or engagement — nobody likes an account that simply puts out content. It’s what happens before and after the post that really counts. In regards to authenticity, I make an effort to stay true to myself and my brand. I think people can tell when influencers are real and really appreciate it. Plus, it gives them a glimpse into who I am as a person!
Your IG shots are beyond rad. Tell us the secret of taking the perfect food shot on our phones.
So believe it or not I teach classes on how to take great photos of your food using your phone! Full disclosure: I use a camera for most of my photos these days. That said, I can still get an awesome shot with my iPhone (I have the 8 Plus) and use it when I’m on the go, in a rush or just don’t want to fuss with a camera. And in those cases I suggest using natural light when possible, turning on your grid to make sure your composition is balanced and editing your photos — even just with an app!
What is the hardest food to photograph?
Anything with a thick or heavy sauce! I honestly try to avoid photographing soupy-looking dishes, even if they taste great.
It seems like you’re everywhere in Atlanta. Where are your favorite local eateries — either to photograph, hang out or stuff your face in?
I think I’d get in trouble if I named a “favorite” restaurant (and I don’t even think I could if I tried), but I clearly love the aesthetics of C. Ellet’s (which is where today’s photos were taken). I’m excited to see how The Battery grows over the next few years. I also spend a lot of time at Ponce City Market. It’s probably due to the fact that I live across the street, but I think I’d spend a ton of time there even if I didn’t. Just give me anywhere with some natural light and a big glass of wine, and I’m one happy girl.
ATL Bucket List became a dining guide for Atlanta newbies and old-timers alike. What were you most surprised to discover about Atlanta during all of your explorations?
I think the biggest shocker was realizing how much Atlanta is changing and expanding! It has been incredible seeing the new establishments and neighborhoods pop up over the 3+ years I’ve lived here. When starting ATL Bucket List I was worried I’d run out of places to cover on the account. Now I laugh just thinking about it — I will NEVER run out of things to talk about here!
Speaking of bucket lists, what is at the top of yours?
I’ve always wanted to stay at the “Secluded Intown Treehouse” listing on Airbnb. It looks like a dream – and it’s right here in Atlanta!
What are your favorite Atlanta bloggers/’grammers or social media accounts we locals should definitely be following?
Obviously you’re talented in the world of social media. What are the biggest mistakes you see people make online?
One of the biggest mistakes I see on social media is trying too hard to push a product or service. Social media is a marketing tool, but it’s a much softer sell than more traditional forms of marketing. Your No. 1 goal with social media should be building trust between you and your audience. I know social media can be a tricky and time-consuming task for many business owners, and that’s what inspired me to launch Atlys Media, my social media agency. I work with a handful of local businesses providing high-quality photography, managing the day-to-day postings, handling community management, optimizing social media advertisements and more.
What are your favorite Atlanta salons to get a manicure before letting the world see your nails in an IG post? Is part of your IG success photogenic hands?!
One of my favorites is Lark & Sparrow. It’s a super cute nail salon in Grant Park, and they do awesome nail art. Keeping my nails looking nice is definitely something that has become important to me. I feel like it sounds superficial but I can’t help it! I’ve had a few (insensitive) people comment on chipped nail polish, so now I’m always thinking about it.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Collaboration over competition. It can be easy to look at fellow bloggers/influencers as “competitors,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m so lucky to be part of an amazing community of women who talk about food, fashion and lifestyle, and I’ve learned so much (and even been able to grow my account) by working alongside them instead of against them.
Excluding friends, family and faith, what are three things you can’t live without?
My phone (duh!), coffee and warm weather.
Our thanks to Alyssa Fagien for sharing more about her life, social media techniques and the best way to shoot our next meal.
And as always, a sincere thank you to CatMax Photography!
Read about even more inspiring Atlanta women in our FACES archives. Click here.