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In Her Shoes: Kirsten Alana

6-minute read

Who’s walking around in Poppy Barley shoes? Here, we spend 5 minutes with our customers to find out who they are and what they do. This time around, we have an extra-special guest who just spent three days with us to visit our showroom and discover our hometown, Edmonton, AB, Canada. You can see what went down by following #ExchangeYEG.


@KirstenAlana www.kirstenalana.com


Luxury Travel Photographer


New York, New York

Poppy Barley style(s) I own:

The Foxhunt Boot in Black, The Perfect Handbag in Black, The Strappy Sandal in Leopard Calf Hair, Black Nubuck + Desert Tan
In Her (Poppy Barley) Shoes: Kirsten Alana, Luxury Travel Photographer

Can you describe the evolution of your career as a photographer - from where you started to where you are now? Why did you decide to make these changes?

I began my career as a photographer as a very young girl still in grade school. At that time, there was no such thing as a digital camera. I learned to develop my own film in a darkroom because of course we shot only 35mm or medium format film in those days. Back then it was very tactile and I loved that process so much that sometimes, I still miss it. In college I began my professional career in photography by starting out shooting portraits of fellow students who were getting married while we were still in school. I guess my first commissioned shoot was really with my boyfriend at the time, for my roommate's wedding portraits. Wedding and portrait photography was something I kept at in my twenties as I worked various day jobs and eventually it became my full time career, but when I was in my late twenties, I found myself divorced and wanting a different life for myself than spending every weekend at a wedding. So, I thought of what other kind of photography might "pay the bills," and travel photography was the thing I thought I'd enjoy the most. The rest, as they say, is history. Though, of course, it wasn't actually that easy!

How has the online community impacted your career and photography?

The ready availability of digital and social media by the time I began my travel photography career made it much easier to market myself, and to make job contacts, than it would have been 10 years prior to that. If I'd had to market myself in only the most traditional ways, I'd have had a much harder time. But for me, beginning a new part of my photography career at the beginning of popularity for social networks such as Twitter and Instagram, it was like a shortcut to contacts and to people who could actually give me work. It was a global network, on a scale that hadn't existed before!

What has been most challenging in your work?

The biggest challenge for me has been being paid an adequate amount for the work that I do. Lots of people these days want your travel photos and your expertise in travel photography, not a lot of people want to pay for a good travel photographer.

In Her (Poppy Barley) Shoes: Kirsten Alana, Luxury Travel Photographer

How do you see your brand and platforms developing and growing?

When I began I was relatively young. Now, I am not old but I am mostly certainly not as young as I once was. As I've aged, I've grown more interested in a more luxurious form of travel and a more luxurious level of client. I am as interested as I always was in conservation and in a sense of responsibility to my fellow man -- but I want to sleep in a four star bed. Whereas before I was content to sleep in a hostel (when I first started out).

We noticed you photograph many people within the cities you travel to. Is there a reason behind this?

I think the people make the place, every bit as much as, and sometimes more than, the details.

What’s are favourite travel destinations?

I could never ever pick just one. That's like asking a mother to choose between her children. But my top 3 are France, Scotland and Morocco.

Where are you dreaming of going to next?

New Zealand and/or Tibet

In Her (Poppy Barley) Shoes: Kirsten Alana, Luxury Travel Photographer

What are your travel essentials?

My "travel wrap" from White + Warren which doubles as a scarf and a blanket, my Poppy Barley purse which is big enough to be a carry on but small enough to be an every day purse, my Bose noise-cancelling headphones, lots of books loaded onto my iPad, a great moisturizer plus a lip balm, and healthy snacks to eat on board the plane.

Why did you decide to make New York your home?

Well the truth is that I didn't decide. It was decided for me. When I looked at all the places that would make sense for a career in travel + photography -- NYC was the only one that had everything I needed. For instance, in terms of travel, most of the tourism boards for foreign countries are based in NYC, there are a lot of embassies for a quick in-person visa, and there is always a travel event happening every week. Plus, in terms of photography in the USA, few cities rival NYC for opportunity except perhaps Los Angeles.

In Her (Poppy Barley) Shoes: Kirsten Alana, Luxury Travel Photographer

What do you love most about your Poppy Barley boots? Why are they great for travel?

I love that my Poppy Barley boots were literally made. for. me and are unique to my foot and leg measurements alone. They're beautiful and timeless in their style, they can be dressed down or dressed up. I can pack just my Poppy Barley boots and not need more than 1 other pair of shoes for any given trip. For someone who travels as often as I do, that versatility and that bespoke nature is very very important.

If you could walk in anyone’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

Jamie Beck from Ann Street Studio

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