• January 30, 2014

Randy Olson on Bridging Cultural Differences

“You realize you are in a very different place with a very different set of folks who have worked things out in a very different way than you have, and are actually much happier.” —Randy Olson

Picture of tribesmen in ethiopia bull jumping
Hamar tribesmen in Ethiopia prepare for a bull jumping initiation ritual.

For Randy Olson, it is the social change that results from powerful photographs that drives what he does. “You hope that if you pick away at some social issue that maybe other people will see it and they will do the same, so the cumulative effect will end up being greater than anything you could do as an individual.” Olson has completed over 30 projects for National Geographic that have taken him all over the world. He tends to document cultures that are facing issues with resources, urbanization, or population pressure.

Olson was named Magazine Photographer of the Year in 2003 in the Pictures of the Year International competition. In 1992, he was also awarded the Newspaper Photographer of the Year. He is one of only two photographers to win both titles. He now lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife Melissa Farlow, who is also a contributing photographer for National Geographic. —Carolyn Van Houten, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

View more of Randy Olson’s work on his website.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Randy Olson
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Carolyn Van Houten, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM

There are 12 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Luis Jara
    January 10, 2016

    Impresionante trabajo, yo estoy empezando y es algo muy emocionante.

  2. Ajay Prasher
    November 6, 2015

    The zeal of participation reflecting from their faces. A perfect shot.

  3. Evan Galib
    October 1, 2015

    This story clearly represents a local tradition by Randy Olson.I enjoyed it very much. thanks to the National geographic.Very much inspiring

  4. Kimberly Marie
    May 8, 2015

    This is a wonderful way of impacting the world. Ibwas a photographer in the US Military and loved every second of it. This is my dream job. Amazing image Mr. Olson.

  5. Raul Cancela
    February 4, 2014

    Las personas de otras culturas tienen mucho para enseñarnos. Buen trabajo!

  6. raiani
    February 1, 2014

    Gr8 job!

  7. Faith Eme
    January 31, 2014

    Great Job. x-raying systems with integration issues, resource matters, urbanization challenges, and demographic incidents is key for social engineering and global integration.

    January 31, 2014

    you aar bshat of aal tv chanl im wacha aal program nice nationalgeo i like your aal apishot

  9. Afsaneh,Rezaei
    January 30, 2014

    This story clearly represents a local tradition by Randy Olson.I enjoyed it very much. thanks to the National geographic..best regards:Afsane

  10. mile.jovanovic
    January 30, 2014

    sviđa mi se ovo

    dobro je ovo nacional geografik

  11. Hnin Mar Lwi
    January 30, 2014

    People around the world live very different ways with their own tradition and culture . All are lovely . I love the story and photo .

  12. srimanta ray
    January 30, 2014

    Excellent story and Image too. well said by Randy Olson. love it… thanks to the National geographic… regards… :)Sri

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