Born in Rome, Italy, Sara Pettinella studied art, design and photography in Italy and the United Kingdom. In 2002, she won the Interfaces Award (–Museum of the Photographic Image and Visual Arts, University of Rome) and she worked in theater and movie productions in Italy and Belgium from 1996 to 2003.
Since 2004, she has been active in the non-profit sector in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa working with refugees and other vulnerable groups through photography and design. In 2011, she relocated to New York City, US, where she showcased her work and received photography awards.
Since 2014, she has been working on documentary projects, with a special focus on music and performative arts in US and Japan.