Sarah Choate was born to a wealthy Boston family and studied painting, winning numerous awards at World Fairs and Expositions from 1893 to 1904 for her watercolors. In 1881 she married Joshua Sears. It was not until the 1890s that she selected photography as her primary medium. Portraits and flower studies were her specialty.
In 1901, F. Holland Day included five photographs by Choate in his landmark New American Photography exhibition, which traveled to London and Paris. Choate was later elected to the Pictorialist group The Linked Ring, and her work was published in 1907 in Camera Work.