Joseph Ferraro: Manfrotto Bumblebee 220 PL

Manfrotto has been a reliable partner in my photography career about a decade. I purchased my first heavy duty tripod while I was studying photography at the New England School of Photography. To this day, it is the only tripod I use. As photographers, taking care of our equipment is taking care of an investment, and I periodically take a part and clean my tripod to ensure long lasting use. That tripod has secured many different cameras, donned multiple tripod heads (determined not by any lack in quality, but by my own personal preference), withstood the coldest of New England winters, balanced on rocks, dipped it’s feet into chilly streams, and aided me as a hiking stick in treacherous territories. It has endured along side me over the years as a tool that I rely on while creating images for both personal and professional assignments. It still works good as new.

As a photographer in this day and age, we are faced with ever changing technology, always questioning our standards for what defines us as being professional image makers on the edge of innovation and new methods of communication. From year to year we find new pieces of equipment to replace old ones inside our bags, and are constantly tempted to upgrade in order to take our work to the next level. For me, my professional career is about being efficient and reliable, as well as decisive and explorative. I don’t want to be occupied with thoughts about technology when my focus should be on telling a story. That’s why I have come to rely on, and care for, my long served Manfrotto tripod to be there with me, stabilizing both my gear and image making process.

Revere Beach - Senior Project

Why then, would I expect any characteristics to differ in the design and implementation of Manfrotto’s newest line of camera bags? Instead of putting too much time into researching my options for bags, I went with the reliability I am accustomed to. The Manfrotto Pro Light line of bags was a perfect choice for the way I work, and to protect my gear. The Bumblebee 220 PL is not a small camera backpack, by any spec. When I first packed out my Bumblebee 220 PL, I had to make strategic decisions about which gear to take out of the bag due to it’s incredible storage capacity, so I wouldn’t be attempting to carry over sixty pounds of gear on my back. I was able to put two Canon DSLR’s in the bag, along with six lenses, a small flash, radio triggers, my laptop, a notebook and pens, memory cards, a color checker, my filter case, a few more accessories I carry, and oh yeah, strapped to the outside of the pack – that Manfrotto Tripod.


My professional career is currently at a pivotal point in it’s development. After graduating from both, the New England School of Photography in Boston, Massachusetts and the Lesley University College of Art and Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I knew I had the skill set and talent to become a freelance photographer. I began, over 15 months ago, assisting the top commercial and editorial photographers in the Greater Boston area. I knew if I was going to make it, working for myself, I would have to observe new and efficient techniques on assignment and around an office. Working for yourself is not as simple as it sounds. You end up wearing multiple hats, (as the boss, the bookkeeper, the social media and marketing specialist, the sales team, the retoucher, and photographer) and once you open your mind to the idea that you are just as much an entrepreneur as the person who opened up a yoga studio down the street, you begin to realize that this business takes a lot more focus than deciding which lens to use to photograph the interior of a newly constructed commercial space.


I still assist a great number of respected creative photographers around Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but I have devoted most of my second year as a freelancer to my business, in connecting with potential clients and building ongoing client relationships. Because, while it is important to learn from the best, it’s equally important to remember to exercise what you’ve learned in order to become the best photographer you can be. My work as an architectural and corporate photographer requires me to travel to many destinations with my gear. I rarely, practically never, shoot in a classic studio environment. But, in order to maintain a level of control in my images, the studio’s gear must travel with me. That’s why having a bag that fits all of my gear, (except for my additional lighting kits, modifiers, and stand bags) is an important decision in deciding which bag will carry well, comfortably, and be presentable in a professional environment. The name Manfrotto is an eye catcher, and those art directors and marketing people who know the name, knows that the photographer chose quality in exchange for peace of mind. This translates to peace of mind for my clients when we can move between shots smoothly without having to pack up into multiple bags or dig through multiple bags looking for pieces of equipment.


It seems natural that a company that has provided me with a piece of equipment that has outlasted other pieces of photographic equipment in my arsenal, would offer a bag worthy of the same reputation. When I pack my Bumblebee 220 PL for the long haul, to go on a whirlwind week-long assignment across the US and back home, I know my gear is not only safe, but I have everything with me I’ll need along the way. Building a small business takes more time and energy than I thought it would when I got started. Making sure my gear arrives at the shoot in the condition it was when I left the studio is as important as remembering to tie my shoes. Not to mention, when your gear arrives in style, your client is reminded of their choice in hiring you because of not only your creativity, but your reliability and professionalism. Purchasing a camera, lens, lighting equipment, tripod only gets you so far. Purchasing a bag that’s durable and reliable, will get you to where you’re going and be there every step of the way.


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