During his time at LHES, Primo Bolo (class of 2010) was always involved in sports or extracurricular activities. “It was a great way to get out, socialize, spend time with friends, travel, and see other places,” said Primo. Among his extracurriculars was yearbook, which became the catalyst for his love of photography. Knowing that applying to study photography in art school would require a portfolio of work, Primo says he was lucky to have a community that helped him build his book and teachers who helped him develop his point of view and taught him how to speak about art.
Following graduation and a summer spent protecting Lanai’s watershed with other conservationists through an Americore internship, Primo started a competitive and rigorous photography program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). FIT’s goal is to place its students in jobs once they graduate, so the curriculum is a combination of general education classes and intense technical projects. When Primo started the program, there were 90 students in his class and only 40 remained at graduation.
Starting a demanding program in a big city 5,000 miles away from Lanai could be challenging, but at FIT, Primo did the same thing he did when he was at LHES – he got involved. Primo was a part of FIT’s student government and signed up with a work-study program through the student activities center. He also had a lot of people in his corner for support. “Coming from Lanai opened a lot of doors for me, and it was easy to make friends,” said Primo. “I stood out immediately because everyone else came from the city or another state in the Tri-state area, where I’m coming from an island in the middle of the ocean that people never heard of.”
After graduating from FIT, Primo landed fashion photography jobs for fashion brands like Barney’s New York and Ralph Lauren. In November 2019, he joined jewelry company Nadri as a staff photographer and helped develop the company’s visual identity as it shifted from a mostly wholesale model to a consumer-facing e-commerce brand. This entailed using photography to create a visual story with the brand’s jewelry as the focus. At Nadri, Primo finds himself wearing many hats on any given day; he has a hand in the brand’s creative content, developing visual goals, and actual production. In his free time, Primo takes on freelance clients which allows him to stay fresh, meet new people and experience how other companies operate.
Although he lives far from Lanai, Primo is always paying attention to what’s happening on island. And when he is able to visit home, he makes it a point to return to his alma mater to meet with students, especially those interested in the arts. This is his way of giving back to the community that helped him get to where he is today. “I always wear Lanai on my sleeve; it’s who I am,” said Primo. “[Growing up,] I knew there were people in the community, at the art center, at school, my classmates, rooting for me. They gave me the confidence to believe in myself and take risks.”
“Where are they now?” features alumni from Lanai High and Elementary School to see what they’ve been up to since graduation.