He was a photographer from the United States of America who emigrated to South America to work in Chile and Argentina. He was born in Sandusky County, Ohio, where he began his career as a photographer at Bishop Studio. In 1894 he became associated with Albert Willman, with whom he opened several photographic studios.
On June 1, 1899, Olds decided to leave for South America on board the Buffon. That year H. G. Olds took 176 snapshots during his voyage from New York to Buenos Aires on the aforementioned ship and from Montevideo to Valparaiso on the Orcana. He took pictures at each port of call: Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires and in the Strait of Magellan; most of them have been preserved in copies of 9 x 12 cm. with a numbered manuscript index.
In the main Chilean port, Olds gets a job as a portrait photographer for Obde W. Heffer's studio. During his time in this country, he obtained numerous plaques showing the views and customs of the port, of which about forty are still preserved today, although, given the numbering, there are about thirteen missing. Some of the buildings he photographed, such as the Victory Theatre in the square of the same name, would be destroyed during the 1906 Valparaiso earthquake.
On August 5, 1900, Olds took his first negative in Buenos Aires. He pioneered a unique style of portraiture work for the time. His photographic activity in the Argentine capital was so successful that instead of returning to the United States, as he apparently planned at first, at the age of two he sent for his girlfriend from Mansfield, Rebecca Jane Rank, who arrived on May 12; they were married immediately.
In 1901 he was appointed official photographer of the Argentine Rural Society -the year in which he carried out the first work for that institution in a livestock exhibition-, a position he held until 1916, which brought him recognition and a link with the ranchers for future work.
His photographs of views and customs were published, for the most part, by the magazine La Ilustración Sudamericana. In addition, several publishers used his large image bank for the publication of postcards. They include shots of street vendors, tenements, garbage burning, etc. A book published in New York in 1917 contains over two hundred photos of the provinces of Córdoba and the Argentine coast.