Dianora Niccolini was born in Florence, Italy, to an American mother and a father from an old Florentine family. She lived in Florence throughout WWII, and at the age of eight, she emigrated to the United States.
At 18, Niccolini moved to NYC to study art. Soon she met a group of dancers, and her passion in her late teens and early twenties was ballet. Not until she met Weegee (Arthur Fellig) in 1963 did Niccolini take up photography.
In 1973, Niccolini began to create photographic bodies of work which resulted in exhibitions. Her first photography show was a series of female nudes in 1974. Her second exhibition in 1975 was comprised of male nudes, which was favorably reviewed by Gene Thornton in The New York Times (December 7, 1975). Niccolini is now considered one of the female pioneers of the male nude in photography.