On Cavallo Island, France, setting up for a test, while the house's architect, Savin Couelle, and architect Luci Curotti set the scene.

On Cavallo Island, France, setting up for a test, while the house's architect, Savin Couelle, and architect Luci Curotti set the scene.


RICHARD OLSEN, a Los Angeles-based architectural writer-photographer born to two generations of Norwegian master carpenters, is the author of LOG HOUSES OF THE WORLD, HANDMADE HOUSES and the forthcoming Rizzoli books CALIFORNIA GREEN, a survey of the evolution of environmental consciousness in the technology, design, and construction of the single-family house from 1930 to 2018; and BRAXTON DIXON, the first appraisal of the work of the late Tennessee masterbuilder and architect known for his dwellings for June Carter and Johnny Cash.

Richard's work as an author has been reviewed in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, the New York Journal of Books, Architectural Record, Architectural Digest, Architect's Newspaper, and the AIA's Residential Architect, among other publications, print and digital.

An art-and-architecture publishing-industry veteran, Richard was Amazon's Arts & Photography and Home & Garden bookstores editor; an architecture editor for Rizzoli; the senior editor for architecture and design at Abrams; and the senior editor for architecture at Architectural Digest.


I began studying and practicing architectural photography while at Rizzoli in the late 1990s, capitalizing on the opportunity to learn about composition and technical facility from the acclaimed photographers whose work I was charged with editing. That went on as a sideline to each of my subsequent editorial positions through to late 2010, when I left Architectural Digest. Since then, in the process of traveling throughout Europe, Scandinavia, and North America to complete four books, I've photographed the interiors and exteriors of hundreds of buildings, in every imaginable circumstance.

A point of difference in my photography (other than my background as an author and editor of architecture books and magazines) is that I approach a building not only as an artwork but also as a living, breathing ecosystem unto itself. I use the cardinal directions as my guide in the chronological sequencing of my documentation. Before any pictures are taken, programmatic challenges and the designer's attendant problem-solving strategies are taken into account, as is the simple but frequently overlooked subject of function—rooms/areas designed for occupancy in the evening and used as such, for example, are photographed then. With the tools available today, mere "pretty pictures" are easily obtained and, in the end, not enough. In the finished images from a shoot, there should be more going on—a dialogue, a story.