Photography - Story

Joanne Di Bona: Capturing Beauty in Every Corner of the World!

1033 Views - 8 mins read

It is a beautiful thing when career and passion come together. It is rare to find someone who strongly follows her passion and even more rare to find someone who blends passion and career into one! One such amazing person whom we discovered for our #livingitseries is the reputed photographer and travel writer- Joanne DiBona. She is a popular photojournalist who captures all of her travels in her camera which you can find at - Joanne Di Bona Photography. She is truly an inspiration for people who are confused with their life! Fret, not we say, follow your passion and work hard to achieve success and tranquillity! As a part of #IamLivingit series, we from the Livingit team share with you the story of Joanne Di Bona and her journey from corporate world to award-winning travel photographer!

Joanne Di Bona had a lucrative career as the Director of Communications with the San Diego Tourism Authority. She loved her job, but the drive for photography pushed her to quit her full-time job! Now she travels the world to capture fascinating stories in her camera. Her impeccable work on photography gave her the opportunity at USA TODAY, where she is the 'Travel Photography Expert' contributor. She was even awarded first place in the recent 42nd Annual San Diego Press ClubExcellence in Journalism Awards in the category Daily Newspapers & Websites/Travel!

And do you know what’s the reason for her success?

It’s her passion for photography and the honest review of her globetrotting experiences. She aims at attracting travelers to the destination through her well written and photographed stories. From clicking outdoor adventure, urban experiences to cultural tourism, theatre, Joanne expertizes in all! Read more to find her motivating journey and don’t miss her pearls of wisdom!

Livingit: Tell us more about yourself
It’s not often one’s life passion can translate into a career, and I’m delighted to have achieved this goal. I left the corporate world in 2010 after almost three decades with the San Diego Tourism Authority (where I served as a San Diego-specific writer and scenic photographer) to begin my new journey as a travel photojournalist. My first assignment as contributing writer-photographer for USA TODAY/10Best led to a permanent designation as “Travel Photography Expert” for the site, and continues to this day.  My contributions to 10Best, as well as to other freelance outlets, give me the opportunity to feature my travel experiences, combined with original photography, on a national and international platform.

Joanne Di Bona in Santa Cruz Island

Livingit: What motivated you towards photography—and how did you know that you are in love with it?
My love of photography emerged at an early age. Growing up in a large Italian-American family, I was always the one to document family gatherings with a Polaroid Land camera. What fun the family had seeing their photos magically pop out, ready to view! My passion for photography intensified when I received an opportunity to teach in Southern Germany after university graduation. If there is any place that ignites a photographer’s inspiration, it is definitely Europe.

Paris France


Switzerland, Lake Geneva Region


Viking River Cruise, Scenes Along the Rhine, Kobern-Gondorf Castle 

Livingit: Coming to the technical aspect of photography, what were your camera and and lighting gear at the initial phase and what are you using at present?
I actually learned the tools of the trade when I was first hired as a PR assistant at the San Diego tourism bureau.  My boss handed me a Nikon N2000 film camera and asked me to start taking PR photos for inclusion in the company print newsletter. The real learning challenge came with the advent of the digital camera. My company eventually bit the digital bullet and purchased an early Canon EOS model. I don’t remember much about it, except for the fact that it cost $5,000 at the time and I was deathly afraid to take it on any gigs for fear I would drop it or it would be stolen. Ever since they put a Canon in my hand, I’ve been shooting with it ever since, and always experimenting with various bodies and lenses.

Carlsbad Flower Fields


San Diego Beaches 

Livingit: What is "Joanne's" style of photography? Could you describe it?
Whenever I can, I like to add people to my travel photos. Generic postcard images can be stunning, but there is something special about having people in an image to add that human element to the photo. I always ask permission if I can take a photo, and have only been denied a handful of times over the decades. Otherwise, I look for beauty in every corner during my travels, be it a weathered door in Sicily, a rainbow over a glorious landscape, or a glowing sunset over the Galapagos Islands.

Old Town San Diego, Folk Dancer 


Santa Barbara California 


Nagoya Palace, Children at Play Under the Cherry Blossoms

Livingit: There are a plethora of influencers in photography, who influences your thinking, photographing, and career path?
When I was 15, my parents gave me a photo book of Ansel Adam’s most famous photos as a birthday present, and I still refer to this book to this day as an inspiration. 

Camden Maine, Old Building Reflections on Water




Juneau Alaska, Cruise Ship

Livingit: We would love to know the one thing about you that no one knows!
I like to think of myself as a Renaissance woman, in a modest way. In addition to being a travel photographer, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of endeavors over the years. I am an oft-published travel writer;  a home improvement expert (my husband and I transformed, hands-on, a  dilapidated “fixer upper” into an Italian villa over the past three decades); a vocalist for a nationally-renowned Italian folkloristic band my husband and I formed 25 years ago; and a mother and grandmother.

My quest at this time in my life is to travel the world to capture as much of earth's beauty as I can, to provide inspiration to others, and to encourage travel as a means to promote world peace through understanding. Photography is a powerful force in achieving this goal.

Rainbow over Pompeii


Yosemite Valley, Outside Tunnel

Livingit: Do you agree with this quote- “A camera is just a tool; it’s the photographer who matters.” Please share your insight.
There is definitely a core truth in this statement. The most sophisticated of cameras and lenses don’t take the place of that photographic “eye,” which can be developed with commitment and practice. Again, practice makes perfect. I would love to share my personal favorite 10 best travel photography tips that I put together on how to achieve better photos!



Hawaii; Kauai; Hanalei Bay, Pier and Walkers 

Livingit: Since you are an avid traveller, what are your travel essentials?
My husband and I are a photographic team, and we travel the world together at least 6 months out of the year. My advice to any traveller is to use only carry on, no matter what the duration of your visit to any destination. There is no way you can explore a destination and photograph it if you are burdened with excess luggage!  We also carry backpacks in which we transport two camera bodies and three lenses, plus battery chargers and a laptop. It isn’t easy and definitely limits you, but it is so worth it to be able to transfer from planes to trains and beyond with limited luggage in tow.

Livingit: Is there any gadget that you wish hadn't bought? If yes then why?
Not that I recall, but there is always a first time. I do try to thoroughly research every purchase I make.

Livingit: Please share with us your workflow and the right tools that you use for post processing? 
Since I was weaned on Photoshop back in the late ‘90s, I still use it exclusively.

Livingit: If given a chance, what would you tell yourself when you started taking photos?
I wish I had not been so intimidated by the technical aspects of camera settings. I had some great teachers over the years, and eventually learned the technical workings of my camera. However, the old adage, “Practice Makes Perfect” comes into play here.  Keep shooting and learn by doing. We are blessed in this digital age that we don’t have to pay for film development any longer, we can look at our shots and hit “save” or “delete,” ---and learn a great deal from the process.

Livingit: As a photographer, you would agree with us that locations and weather plays a massive role in a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
This is my greatest fear when I visit a destination on a press tour. Of course, if you are in Paris in the rain, you may be able to get that misty, romantic shot of two lovers kissing under an umbrella. However, if you are in the Alps with three weeks of torrential rain and grey mist (which is what happened to us in 2010), there is really nothing you can do but accept fate and look for alternative photo opportunities (interiors, lifestyle, food shots, etc.).

Prague, Czech Republic, Bridge in Rain

Livingit: Colour vs. Black and White. Which is your personal favourite and how different is the photographic process?
If I had my choice, I would shoot only in black/white (owing to my childhood obsession with Ansel Adams), but that obviously not the preferred art form for travel photography. I use colour whenever possible, but when I see a photo that lends itself well to black/white, I go for it!

San Diego Safari Park, Baby Gorilla


Sicily, Castellamare del Golfo, Old Stairwell 

Livingit: If we would ask you to pick just one photograph from your entire collection, which one would it be and why?
Despite the thousands of travel photos I’ve shot over the decades, my family photos mean the most to me. This is one of my favourite shots, of my grandson Luca sitting outside one summer evening in a rare San Diego rain. 

Luca in Rain

Livingit: Being an award winning photographer, what would be your pearls of wisdom for budding photographers?
Take your camera with you wherever you go, and shoot everything that sparks your interest. Don't let your images languish in your camera, but process your photos immediately, and learn by doing. You are in the glorious digital age where learning how to hone your photographic skills doesn't cost you a fortune. Embrace this opportunity and go out and capture the world and its people. Find your passion!

So go ahead, find your passion, do the job that makes you happy, explore the world and you would see the world in a whole new way. After all, you only live once! So folks, STOP Existing and START Livingit!

Read more motivating stories-

Demystifying People and World Through Her Lens- Barbara Weibel
Lauren Bath's Boredom Fix - Quit Job and Live by Photography