Sandra Steinbrecher is a Chicago based freelance photographer focused mainly on documentary projects. Her assignments for Chicago Public Schools have taken her into high schools around the city to record their challenges and successes. In the last few years, she created photo diaries documenting life at Fenger, Harper, Marshall and Roosevelt High Schools. 

Currently Sandra is photographing the efforts to repurpose Anthony Overton School, a closed public school in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood. Recently, she documented life at Alain Locke Charter School for CPSLives, an arts partnership program, as well as the art and artists of the Wabash Arts Corridor and the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, two public art initiatives in Chicago. Previously, she collaborated with Ron Gordon to make the silver gelatin prints from historic original negatives for national and international exhibitions of Vivian Maier's work. 

Sandra's photos of the Wabash Arts Corridor murals were recently featured in an exhibition about the history of public art at the Chicago Cultural Center. She has exhibited her work at Columbia College Chicago, the University of Illinois, Grinnell College, and Luther College, with the Chicago Photography Collective, the Chicago Public Library and the Battrell Gallery. Her images appeared in the 2014 CNN national docu-series, Chicagoland, in Rolling Stone Brasil, on the Chicago Public Schools’ and White House websites, on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight program, on ebony.com, in the Economist magazine and in other publications.

Recent accomplishments:

  • Selected for Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition, “The Outwin 2019 American Portraiture Today”, opening October 2019

  • Documented 2 public art initiatives in Chicago in 2016,
    with sixteen mural images installed at the Chicago Cultural Center, 2017

  • Produced and built "Remembering Vivian Maier: A Pop-Up Darkroom and Conversation", an educational program at Soho House Chicago, 2016

  • Collaborated with Ron Gordon to print contemporary silver gelatin prints from historic original negatives for national and international exhibitions of Vivian Maier's work. Also traveled to participate in talks and speak on panels for this notable and distinctive project, 2011-2015

  • Black and white photos of Fenger High School appeared in the CNN national docu-series, Chicagoland, 2014

  • Documented life at Harper, Fenger and Marshall High Schools, 2008-2013

  • Produced and published hard cover photo book of life at Fenger High School, 2012

  • Fenger photos installed in US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s office, 2011


  • The Pride and Perils of Chicago's Public Art,
    Historical Exhibition, featuring selected Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) mural photos, Chicago Cultural Center,

  • Street Level, Hokin Gallery, Columbia College, Fall 2017

  • The Education Project Photo Exhibition,
    Solo Exhibition, University of Illinois, 2015

  • The Education Project Photo Exhibition,

  • Solo Exhibition, Grinnell College, 2015

  • The Education Project Photo Exhibition,
    Solo Exhibition, Luther College, 2013

  • Go Do Good / Chicago Photography Collective, Group Show, 2011

  • Two Schools A Photo Diary / Chicago Photography Collective, Two Person Show, 2010

  • Vietnam, Solo Exhibition, Chicago Public Library, 2010

  • Vietnam, Solo Exhibition, Battrell Gallery, 2009