Randy Olson is a photographer in the social-documentary tradition. He often collaborates with his wife, Melissa Farlow, and their assignments have taken them to over 50 countries in the past 30 years. Although they are published in LIFE, GEO, Smithsonian and other magazines, they have primarily photographed projects for the National Geographic Society.
Most of his work centers around resource extraction and how that affects Indigenous communities or pristine ecosystems. Randy’s 30+ National Geographic magazine projects have taken him to almost every continent. He 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 in the largest photojournalism contest operating continuously since World War II.
In 2011, Randy founded The Photo Society (thephotosociety.org) to provide support for, and exposure to members as the economics of print dwindles. The National Geographic photographers elected Randy to represent them on the Photographers Advisory Board (PAB).During his tenure, the PAB successfully rebuffed National Geographic’s attempt to take the photographers’ copyright away from them and The Photo Society was born as a result of the increasing need for National Geographic photographers to stand together. The Photo Society reaches 5 million viewers on social media.