Diana Zalucky is a photographer/director hailing from St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, who is happy to call Los Angeles home. Her passion and energy on set brings out the best in people, resulting in organic images that are filled with spirit!
An explorer at heart who has travelled on assignment to over 30 countries, her images inspire viewers to be adventurous and enjoy life to it’s fullest. She gets giddy over new passport stamps, beautiful light and good food. Diana loves narrating on set, playing in the mountains or ocean and finding the good life wherever she goes.
From breakfast bites to midnight snack, what is your ideal food day?
When I’m at my home in Los Angeles I make myself a cappuccino or two shots espresso over ice with almond milk. My sister makes fun of me for never finishing my coffee. To some degree, I’m a bit of a poser when it comes to actually drinking it, but I like the ritual of coffee.
I love breakfast! I go through periods where breakfast can be a smoothie, an acai bowl or sunny side up egg on a half everything bagel with hot sauce and some sort of fruit on the side. There’s so much amazing produce available in California; I feel completely spoiled by all the options I have at my finger tips. I love going to the farmer’s market and knowing that all my food has come from only a few hours away.
Some of my favorite snacks are pomegranate seeds, blood oranges, peaches, heirloom tomatoes and avocados. If I’ve been out of town for a while I’ll treat myself to cochinita pibil tacos from Yuca’s or the Tonkotsu spicy ramen from Silverlake Ramen for lunch. Dinner can be anything from a “salad sandwich” — baby kale, chopped apples, dried cranberries, chicken with homemade dressing, and bread to scoop each bite, breakfast for dinner or most likely out to a lovely dinner with friends.
Actually, my ideal food day is one that would be curated by Ali.
What’s the story behind working in photography professionally? How did it all start?
I have been making pictures for half my life. I picked up a camera in high school and haven’t put it down since. I studied photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and from ages 21 to 29, I was shooting everything from advertising campaigns to celebrities for Disney. My experience working there was the education of a lifetime. In 2012, I started my own photography business with focus on lifestyle, travel and food photography for advertising and editorial clients around the world.
Does having a career in photography allow for a great work/play balance? How so?
Yes! I feel incredibly lucky to be living a life I designed and that I love. I feel like I am always working and playing and can’t really tell the difference at times. I believe the balance is in the surrendering to be completely in the moment of whatever it is you are doing. I am fortunate that a lot of my play happens at work and a lot of my work is inspired by my play. Anything that inspires you can be made into a story for you to communicate with to others visually; that is what I love about photography.
All that said, it is still a business and I have to work hard and always be hustling to make it all happen. I have no problem with that because I love what I do so much. A lot of my drive comes from being passionately curious, but sometimes it feels like I am always distracted by beauty. Overall, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Five things you are dying to have right now…
A large glass of sparkling water with a muddled Meyer lemon.
A body scrub from the Korean spa.
A personal driver. I really don’t like driving. I feel very comfortable taking an Uber everywhere… even in LA.
A Contax G2 and T3 Silver… because I need more cameras to play with!
A fireplace. I love the smell and find it incredibly comforting. I’ve been known to leave the Yule log on the TV well beyond Christmastime.
What are your favorite cities for food? Favorite things to eat there?
This is a really hard question because I love everywhere.
There are so many more great places to eat in LA, it didn’t used to be such a great food city but that has definitely changed the last few years! My favorites are:
Cocktails, rice balls, cracker thin pizza margherita at Little Dom’s for dinner. Actually anything from there for dinner will be amazing.
I go to Earthbar for the Acai bowl. I try to recreate this at home but it is never the same. They use hemp milk, which I never thought I would love so much in this!
Silverlake Ramen for Tonkotsu spicy ramen, I try many new ramen places but keep coming back to this place.
Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf Shaved Prime Rib sandwich and anywhere Ali takes me in Chicago.
Machneyuda in Jerusalem. My producer took us here after our shoot wrapped and it was an incredible dinner!
Tacos in Tijuana. I visited Tijuana a few years back with some friends where we ate at taquerias that focused on different kinds of tacos. We hit up the cantinas in between taco trips… that led to us not remembering the names of any places we visited.
Athens, Greece — Iced Frappe (no, not from Starbucks) and gyro from a corner in Plaka.
Turkey — Lahmacun, tea in tulip glasses, breakfast in Beyoglu.
There’s so many more but those are some that come to mind first!
How do you always start your day on the right foot?
Making time for meditation is very important to me. For me, that means I start the day by tuning in, practicing gratitude, visualize future experiences I desire, set my intention for the day and send love to everyone. After this, I like to get outside or go to a workout class. It clears my head and I know the day will be great!
What are your daily beauty and/or fitness regimens?
I wash my face with a Clarisonic. Then I apply eye cream, sunblock serum, mascara and lip gloss. I swear by twice weekly mud masks. Nightly, I use eye cream and then slather my face with La Mer. I travel often and struggle with fitness on the road so I’ve made it a non-negotiable that I’m active 5-6 days a week when home. I am always trying something new, anything from yoga or surf sessions in Malibu to learning to rock climb with friends. Right now I am pretty hooked on this ballet barre class called Pop Physique, hiking, yoga and a Bollywood dance class! So fun!
Advice you’d give your younger self…
Relax; it’s all going to happen.
What’s your first food memory?
I sincerely don’t remember my first food memory but I have three very special food memories that might make you hate me a little?
Shooting in Monet’s garden at Giverny. It was closed to the public so it was just myself and my photo crew. Our craft services in the gardens was a table with about 20 different kinds of cheese and some charcuterie. It was very special; being able to take a break where Monet would pass by his roses, while I stuff my face with Brie and enjoy people I loved working with.
When I was in Petra, Jordan, we were waiting to shoot at twilight for a candle lighting ceremony at the Treasury. Visitors have to clear out at sunset and get invited back for this lighting ceremony later in the evening. We were there for a couple hours alone, in this magical place eating upside-down chicken and rice by candlelight while a guard told us crazy ghost stories.
On a visit to Crete, the art director and producer, who have become some of my dearest friends, and I were scouting a small farm on a Sunday before our upcoming shoot. When we tried to leave, the owner wouldn’t let us. They announced, ”YOU stay, it’s Sunday! Time for a snack and drink!” Of course, we stayed and man oh man that was a very fun afternoon. Family members of the farm gathered while they excitedly gave us shot after shot of their homemade ouzo. We were distracted with pork right off the grill, slices of tomato and cucumber and some of the best cheese I’ve ever had (I don’t remember the name but know it isn’t allowed in the states). When my friends and I looked at each other, feeling quite warm and fuzzy, we realized it was truly time to go.
What inspires you?
A while back a friend told me that I was an “experience junkie.” There are so many amazing opportunities for new experiences in the world. A lot of my personal growth happens through new experiences, near and far, which inspires my work. I’m inspired by: the ability for us all to constantly evolve to be better people and do better work, connection with people around me, the juxtaposition of high and low, finding beauty in the ordinary, new cultures, food, beautiful light, people and places. I believe that if you are willing to surrender to the uncertainty of life, being open to everything without expectations, you will be greeted with free flowing inspiration.
I also have a strong fascination with people and the art they create. And by “art,” I mean whatever it is that they love. I may not understand what you are doing, but I do understand unwavering passion and the need to create, as if it’s your only choice. To be able to find that connection with others is very special to me.
The strangest thing in your fridge right now?
Polaroid film, champagne, and a 60 year old sourdough pancake starter given to me by a dear friend whose family used to make these pancakes together on camping trips throughout the west.
Death-row last meal?
Stuffed zucchini blossoms, perfectly ripe blood oranges, filet mignon with truffle butter, my dad’s mashed potatoes, blue cheese-stuffed olives in a martini (I won’t drink the martini but I love the way olives taste after being soaked in one), roasted figs, heirloom tomatoes drenched in olive oil and fig balsamic with a sprinkle of fleur del sel and pepper, a glass of sparkling water with a muddled meyer lemon, and a glass of champagne.
Baby scoops of the following gelatos: salted caramel, pistachio and strawberry.
Finish with a shot of perfectly chilled limoncello.
I like options and would die happy knowing I had a bite of everything.
Favorite midnight snack?
A fancy cheese drizzled with truffle honey or strawberry-thyme jam and a torn piece of baguette.