A native of Frankfurt, Germany Ulli Steltzer emigrated to the United States in 1953. She taught music in Massachusetts, then worked in a photo lab in New York. She opened a photo studio in Princeton, New Jersey and began photographing migrant workers for the Department of Labor and Industry which lead to other assignments focusing on the rural and urban poor, and assignments for Time magazine. In 1972, she moved to Vancouver and began producing photographic books about Canadian native peoples in the Arctic and B.C., Mayans in Guatemala and new immigrants to California. Her work has been widely exhibited.