Shamsavari was born in Tehran, Iran on the same year of the Islamic Revolution. Her mother is an Iranian Bahá'í and her father is of Azerbaijani and Kurdish descent. At 16 months old, Shamsavari developed Wilms' tumor, a tumor of the kidneys. This, along with the persecution the family faced after the Revolution, prompted the family to escape Iran.
The family initially moved to Brazil, where they lived for three months before being granted asylum in Britain. There Shamsavari was successfully cured of cancer at Great Ormond Street Hospital, an experience which later affected her work: "I hope to inspire people towards the message of love, equality and acceptance in this troubled world we live in."
Sara attended the Camberwell School of Art and Design at the University of the Arts London, and during this time experimented with painting, drawing, mixed media and photography, which by her final year dominated. She graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and won a place to study a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) in music production and development at the University of Westminster, where she graduated in 2005. Sara produced work in a range of mediums choosing photography as the first of her professional endeavours for its ability to create an instant bond between the artist and the outside world.
Shamsavari's work has been exhibited in galleries and public spaces in London, Paris, New York City and Hong Kong including the Institute of Contemporary Art, London City Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, Photofusion, Selfridges & Co, Espace Pierre Cardin, (Studio 55) and Corridor Gallery. Her work, exhibitions and profile have featured across various media and publications including BBC, ITN, Reuters, The Guardiani-D, Dazed & Confused, Volt and Brownbook.
Sara has delivered a number of artist talks, lectures and workshops at institutions, venues and events including Tate Britain, The Apple Store, Kings Place, The Southbank Centre (WOW Festival) and the Royal Institution of Great Britain (Cr8net).
Shamsavari is also a musician, performing both as a solo artist and as part of choirs and collectives. She has performed in venues including City Hall's London Living Room, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Stratford Circus.
Shamsavari is described as "energetic and forceful ... weighed with conviction" (The Guardian) with"the rare gift of capturing how the light strikes a face to illuminate hope" (Aesthetica), her work as "unflinchingly honest portraits" (Brownbook UAE)"revealing a unique empathy with her subjects"(i-D) and carrying "acute socio-political messages" (Flavorpill).