Randy Olson

Olson received an Alicia Patterson Fellowship to support a seven-year project documenting a family with AIDS, and a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his story on problems with Section 8 housing. He was also awarded the Nikon Sabbatical and a grant from the National Archives to save the Pictures of the Year collection.

Randy Olson is the founder of The Photo Society and a photojournalist in the documentary tradition. He often works with his wife, Melissa Farlow and their work has taken them to 50 countries over the past 20 years.  Even though they are published in LIFE, GEO, Smithsonian and other magazines, they have primarily worked on projects for the National Geographic Society. They normally work individually, but have co-produced National Geographic magazine stories on northern California, American national parks, and the Alps. They photographed the southern United States for a book by Collins Publishing and have collaborated on over 70 books by various publishers.

Randy’s 30+ National Geographic projects have taken him to almost every continent. National Geographic Society published a book of his work in their Masters of Photography series. Olson was the Magazine Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded POYi’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year—one of only two photographers to win in both media.

As the economics of print dwindles they support their documentary addiction by doing advertising campaigns and corporate work.  Randy photographed the Toyota Land Cruiser campaign in the Yukon and Australia.  They have done advertising photography for Becton Dickinson, HSBC Bank, Audi, Cleveland Clinic, Stratos Global and others so they can continue to support socially responsible documentary projects. They live in Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The video below is from the Land Cruiser ad campaign Randy shot for Toyota.

Feature Length Publications (Solo):

 

2018 —PLASTICS, National Geographic magazine, June

2016 —Ogallala Aquifer, National Geographic magazine, August

2015 —Lake Turkana, National Geographic magazine, April

2013 —Suriname Bio Blitz, National Geographic magazine, unpublished

2012 —Easter Island, National Geographic magazine, July

2011 — Seven Billion, National Geographic magazine, January

2010 — Africa’s Last Frontier: Ethiopia’s Omo Valley, National Geographic, March

2009 — Camel Pageant: Isn’t She Lovely? National Geographic magazine, August

2009 — Kamchatka: Where the Salmon Rule, National Geographic magazine, August

2009 — Price of Gold, National Geographic magazine, January

2008 — Gilded Age, Gilded CageChina’s Bling Dynasty, National Geographic, May

2007 — Global Fish Crisis: Still Waters, National Geographic magazine, April

2006 — Heartbreak on the Serengeti, National Geographic magazine, February

2005 — Ituri Pygmies: Who Rules the Forest? National Geographic, September

2005 — Conversations with Apes, Bonobos, National Geographic KIDS magazine, April

2004 — Wet Down Under, Australia’s Monsoonal North National Geographic, November

2004 — Whitesburg, Kentucky, National Geographic magazine, May

2003 — Beyond the Looting: What’s Next for Iraq’s Treasures? National Geographic magazine, October

2003 — Shattered Sudan: Drilling for Oil, Hoping for Peace, National Geographic magazine, February

2003 — 11 Days of Sudan, Global Journalist, July

2002 — Crucible of the Gods, National Geographic magazine, September

2002 — Catfish Hunters, National Geographic magazine, May

2001 — Deep Black Sea, National Geographic magazine, May

2001 — Hibernia Oil Fields, National Geographic magazine, assigned and unpublished

2001 — Treasured Islands of Palmyra: Nature’s Stronghold in the Pacific, National Geographic magazine, March

2000 — Remote Russia: Expeditions to Putorana Plateau, National Geographic magazine, November

2000 — Samoan Way, National Geographic magazine, July

2000 — Indus Civilization: Clues to an Ancient Puzzle, National Geographic, June

2000 — Thailand, National Geographic Adventure magazine

2000 — Smokies, National Geographic Adventure magazine

1999 — The Lucky One, Mother Jones magazine, June

1998 — Ozarks Harmony, National Geographic magazine, April

1997 — County Fairs, National Geographic magazine, October

1997 — Amish, Bucks County, GEO magazine

1997 — Silent Company, A Family with AIDS, LIFE magazine

1996 — Abandoned at Birth, People magazine

1995 — Earth Day: 25 Years, National Geographic magazine, April

1995 — Window on the Past, Iowa’s Amana Colonies, National Geographic Traveler, July/August

1994 — Ste. Genevieve Missouri, National Geographic Traveler, September/October

Feature Length Publications (with Melissa Farlow)

2006 — Meltdown: The Alps Under Pressure, National Geographic magazine, February

1994 — Our National Parks: Legacy at Risk, National Geographic magazine, October

1993 — Northern California, National Geographic magazine, July

 

Grants and Awards

2017 — Siena International Photo Awards Photographer of the Year

2016 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Finalist, Environmental Vision Award

2016 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Third Place Magazine Feature Story

2011 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Series or Special Section, 1st Place, National Geographic, “POPULATION 7 BILLION”

2010 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL FEATURE STORY – MAGAZINE, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Magazine — AFRICA’S LAST FRONTIER

2009 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE/NATURAL HISTORY PICTURE STORY, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Magazine — “KAMCHATKA SALMON”

2009 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL NEWS STORY – MAGAZINE EDITING, Second Place, National Geographic Magazine — “THE PRICE OF GOLD”

2009 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL ISSUE REPORTING STORY – MAGAZINE EDITING, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Magazine — “WHERE SALMON RULE”

2007 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL FEATURE PICTURE STORY, Award of Excellence, National Geographic — “China’s Middle Class”

2005 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Picture Editing Portfolio, First Place, National Geographic Magazine (Named in Award to Picture Editor Kathy Moran)

2003 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Multiple Page Editing News Story, Second Place, National Geographic Magazine, “Shattered Sudan”

2002 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Photographer of the Year, First Place, Randy Olson, National Geographic Society

2002 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Division / General Reporting, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Society, “Cane Worker”

2002 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Division / Feature Picture Story, First Place, National Geographic Society, “Keepers of the Golden Fleece”

2002 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Division / Feature Picture Story, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Society, “Yayla Migration”

2002 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Division / News Picture Story, Third Place, National Geographic Society, “Sudan’s Civil War”

2001 — Communication Arts, Magazine Division / Editorial, National Geographic magazine, “Indus Civilization”

2001 — Communication Arts, Magazine Division / Editorial, National Geographic magazine, “The Samoan Way”

2000 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Photographer of the Year, second place, National Geographic Magazine

2000 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Science/Natural History, third place, National Geographic Magazine, “Palmyra Atoll”

2000 — Eisie Award, LIFE magazine, The Lucky One, Mother Jones magazine

2000 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Portrait/Personality, first place, National Geographic Magazine, “Ariadna”

2000 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Portrait/Personality, Award of Excellence, National Geographic Magazine, “Bird Hunter”

1998 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Photographer of the Year, third place, National Geographic

1998 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Portrait personality, first place, National Geographic, “Jack Waits for his Uncle”

1998 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Pictorial, Award of Excellence, National Geographic, “Mail Stop”

1998 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Issue Reporting Picture Story, second place, National Geographic, “Ozark Epicenter”

1997 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Sports Feature, Award of Excellence, “Amish Harness Racing”

1997 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Pictorial, third place, National Geographic, “Talent Show”

1997 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Feature Picture Story, first place, National Geographic, “County Fairs”

1996 — Nikon Sabbatical Grant, Managing AIDS in the 1990s: A Family Struggle

1995 — Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship, Managing AIDS in the 1990s: A Family Struggle

1992 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Newspaper Photographer of the Year, First Place, Randy Olson, The Pittsburgh Press

1992 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Newspaper Feature Picture Story, Award of Excellence, Randy Olson, The Pittsburgh Press

1992 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Portrait Personality, Award of Excellence, Randy Olson, The Pittsburgh Press

1992 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Feature, Award of Excellence, Randy Olson, The Pittsburgh Press

1991 — Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, First Place, Photojournalism

1991 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Portrait Personality, Award of Excellence, Randy Olson, The Pittsburgh Press

1988 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Magazine Picture Story, third place, The Pittsburgh Press, “Truancy”

1985 — National Archives Grant to preserve the Pictures of the Year International print, and slide collection at the University of Missouri.

1983 — PICTURES OF THE YEAR INTERNATIONAL Feature, first place, San Jose Mercury News, “Eight is Enough”

 

Lectures and Workshops – Selected:

2017 — Stanford Photo Workshop

2017 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 69, Faculty

2016 — Stanford Photo Workshop

2016 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 68, Faculty

2015 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 67, Faculty

2014 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 66, Faculty

2013 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 65, Faculty

2012 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 64, Faculty

2012 — Annenberg Space for Photography, IRIS Nights Lecture Series, No Strangers exhibit and 4K Motion Installation, Speaker and film profile

2011 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 63, Faculty

2010 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 62, Faculty

2008 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 60, Faculty

2008 — SomosFoto Workshop, Dominican Republic, Faculty

2007 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 59, Faculty

2006 — National Press Club, Speaker, May 19

2006 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 58, Faculty

2005 — Grosvenor Auditorium, National Geographic Society Lecture series, Pygmies: Who Owns the Forest?

2005 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 57, Faculty

2004 — Australian Embassy for Australia Monsoon NGM Story, Speaker

2004 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 56, Faculty

2003 — Flying Short Course, NPPA lectures in Norfolk, Cleveland, Memphis, San Antonio, and San Jose, Faculty

2003 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 55, Faculty

2003 — Grosvenor Auditorium, National Geographic Society Lecture series, Sudan

2002 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 54, Faculty

2001 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 53, Faculty

2000 — Maine Photographic Workshop in Cuba, Faculty

1999 — Anderson Ranch Workshop, Faculty

1998 — Grosvenor Auditorium, Photographer’s Seminar, National Geographic Society, Silent Company, A Family with AIDS, Speaker

1998 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 50, Faculty

1997 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 49, Faculty

1996 — Northern Short Course, NPPA, Faculty

1996 — Eddie Adams Workshop, Faculty

1996 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 48, Faculty

1996 — Canadian Photographers’ Association Edmonton, Faculty

1994 — Flying Short Course, NPPA lectures in Hartford, Detroit, Nashville, Dallas, and Spokane, Faculty

1993 — Missouri Photo Workshop, MPW 45, Faculty

1993 — Aids Symposium, University of North Carolina, Speaker

1991 — Santa Fe Workshop, Houston FotoFest International, Faculty

Exhibitions (Solo):

2011 — Duality, iWitness Gallery, Portland Oregon, February 4 – May 4 (with Melissa Farlow)

2011 — Randy Olson, PhotoWorld Photography Center, Istanbul, Turkey,

2010 — Omo River Valley, Visa pour L’image, Perpignan France, September

2009 — The World at Our Door, Silver Eye Gallery, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, September 23 – January 2, 2010 (with Melissa Farlow)

2007 — Global Fisheries, Visa pour L’image, Perpignan France, September

2004 — Sudan, Carnegie Library and Museum of Art, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

2003 — Sudan, Visa pour L’image, Perpignan France, September

Exhibitions – Selected (Group)

2018 — Newseum Best 100 Photographs from 75 Years of POYi Two photographs were chosen for this exhibit.

2012 — Christies Auction: THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC COLLECTION: THE ART OF EXPLORATION CELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, Sale 2603 New York, Rockefeller Center | December 6, 2012

2012 — 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic, which showcases some of National Geographic’s most compelling photographs, September 29, 2012 – January 13, 2013, Fawick Gallery Cleveland Museum of NATURAL HISTORY

2013 — MAGMA exhibit: In Librino, a neighborhood of Catania, Sicily, Fiumara d’Arte has been working for 10 years with various artistic projects (including photography) to put an end to cultural and social confinement. MAGMA, a unique photography museum will be articulated in the shops and commercial centers of Librino: bakeries, gyms, hairdressers, supermarkets, etc, that will all have pictures from world famous photographers exhibited inside the shops. Visitors will be handed a map with all the museum’s locations and will have the possibility to visit the neighborhood and the photography museum passing from one small shopping area to another.

2012 — No Strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world, November 2012 – January 2013, Annenberg Space for Photography. Photographers featured in the exhibit are Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher, Wade Davis, Chris Johns, Lynn Johnson, Steve McCurry, Randy Olson, and Chris Rainier. The exhibit will feature an original short documentary on these photographers shown in vivid detail on two 14’ by 7’ screens in 4K resolution.

2012 — Beyond the Story: National Geographic Unpublished 2011 Grosvenor Hall, February 23, 2012 – August 5, 2012. Selected from images shot on assignment for 29 articles, the photographs in this exhibition offer a glimpse at the richness of what is left behind after editing is complete.

2011 — I Colori del Mondo, Rome Un mondo di colori di Guglielmo Pepe. A major national exhibition of National Geographic Italy. The Palace of Exhibitions in Rome – “Colors of the World” at the Exhibition Palace in Via Nazionale in Rome: 12 February – 1 May 2011

2011 —Through the Lens of National Geographic, Celebrating a Century of Visual Exploration, June 30 through October 22, 2011, Mexican Cultural Institute

2010 — Water: Our Thirsty World The Annenberg Space for Photography presents an exhibit examining the precarious state of the world’s fresh water.  Coinciding with National Geographic’s special issue “Water: Our Thirsty World,” this exhibit features the work of award-winning photographers looking at our most precious resource from environmental, social, political and cultural perspectives, March 27 through June 13, 2010

2010 — Digital to Daguerreotype: Photographs of People. Carnegie Museum of Art, June 8, 2009 through January 31, 2010

2010 — Nuru Project, Leveraging photography for social change in the developing world. Dignity exhibit was initially launched in New York and continued to San Francisco, Chicago, DC, Toronto, London, Dubai, and Karachi. In addition, there is a Dignity photo book.

2009 —Paradise: National Geographic Photographs Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts November 7, 2008 through January 2nd, 2009 Where… or what… is heaven on earth? Nine National Geographic contemporary masters answer the question in a new gallery show.

2003 —Norderlicht Photofestival, Global > Detail, Globalization exhibit, curated by Wim Melis

1997 —In a Personal Light: National Geographic Photographers, Museum, National Geographic Society, 17thand M Streets, Washington DC