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Alice Gao | In Her Shoes

Alice Gao is a New York based Travel & Still Life Photographer; her work has been featured in Kinfolk Magazine, The New York Times T Magazine and the WSJ Magazine just to name a few. Alice was born in a very small town in China and migrated to the United States when she was just shy of three years old. She grew up in New Jersey, New York, as an only child, went to college in Philadelphia, and promptly moved to NY upon graduating. Alice has lived in New York for almost 8 years now and can’t quite imagine living anywhere else, though she says 'I do dream about it once in a while.'

We have been following Alice's work for a few years now and were very excited to sit down with her to learn more.

We love your work and also your blog – can you tell us a bit about it and how you got started?

Thank you! I started my blog shortly after I moved to NY. Everything was exciting to me at that time. I would visit a new coffee shop and take, like, a hundred photos. I practically slept with my camera. I wanted a place to share my experiences in NY, as well as a platform for me to practice telling a story with photos. I had been on Flickr before but that was just uploading one photo at a time. To me, the appeal was in the edit and crafting a bigger story around the right selection of images. 

What does a typical workday involve for you?

It totally can depend. I think many people have this glorified view of what a typical day looks like for me (based off my social media), but in reality, it’s a lot of behind the scenes admin work. Running a photography business is like 20% shooting, 80% the other crap. Some days I spend eight hours straight writing emails and replying as they come back. Other times, when I’m not shooting, I’m editing files or dreaming up concepts for new shoots with mood boards and figuring out the art direction.

When do you do your best work/feel most creative & inspired?

Probably right after my morning coffee. I’m addicted, 110%.

I also feel most inspired when I’m traveling, viewing an exhibition from a favorite artist or discovering new artists, and when I’m working with a killer team (could be stylists, art directors, models, etc.).

What woman or women do you admire the most?

Ooh hard to answer. I think the easy answer for me is my grandmother. She is the most selfless person I know and has made incredible sacrifices for her family.

What does style & substance mean to you?

To me, it’s more about what a person creates and produces, and less about what they consume (or wear).

Currently obsessed with?

OLO fragrances – I keep Wyeth in my handbag at all times now.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given?

Too many “isms” from my dad to name. But I’ve already used those a lot in other interviews so I’m going with something a bit more simple: Don’t stress over what you cannot control (easier said than done, but I always try to remember this and it’s kept me surprisingly calm in awful situations, especially travel related).

Favourite travel destination?

Paris feels a bit like a second home to me, but after that, I’d have to say Hong Kong. I get a thrill out of visiting each time I go. There is a great energy to that city and my favorite hotel ever (The Upper House) is there.

What’s next on the itinerary?

I’m working on some personal projects while things have slowed down a bit for summer and should be heading to Venice in September, hopefully France in October and I am really trying to make a personal trip to Marrakech happen. And if I’m lucky, I’ll squeeze in a trip to Hong Kong before the end of the year.

What are some of your favourite neighbourhood spots in New York?

Rose Bakery, Daily Provisions, Abraco, and Maialino, to name a few. I’ve become such a creature of habit so you can find me at these places without fail. Also at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels – it’s not in my neighborhood per se but it’s practically a second home for me now.


Alice wears our very first sandal, The Summer Staple.

You can follow Alice on instagram here, her blog here, and her incredible portfolio here.