At the age of 14, Sara Ziff was walking home from school in New York City, when she was scouted to become a model. Ziff's experiences as a young model eventually fed into a desire to improve the working conditions in this highly unregulated and secretive industry. She has stated that she knew, as a teenager, that this work "would become more than just modeling...more meaningful to her in other ways." At the age of 18, Ziff began modeling full-time and began documenting her life with the help of then-boyfriend and filmmaker, Ole Schell. What initially began as a video diary eventually became the award-winning documentary, Picture Me, a film that explores some of the darker sides of the modeling industry through focusing both on Ziff's personal experiences and those of her fellow models. She has since returned to university, graduating magna cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in political science.
She has become a vocal advocate for better working conditions in the modeling industry, founding the Model Alliance in 2011. Working with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, headed by Diane von Furstenberg, the nonprofit Model Alliance tries to work with the designers and other industry leaders to establish fair labor standards within the American fashion industry.