Singing hits like “Big, Big Love,” popular and very upbeat singer Michael Franti brought his show to Sacramento in September. One of the last two closing acts of the Farm-to-Fork free Street Festival, Franti is originally from nearby Davis, California. In fact, possibly the most touching part of the show was when Franti pointed out his mother. She was unassumedly hanging out in the front side of the crowd. Franti talked about how she, as a white woman, had adopted him, an African-American as part of her diverse family.
Franti likes to include a lot of upbeat, inspirational songs and commentary, and using his family as an example of diversity of opinions and backgrounds co-existing peacefully with “big big love” was a nice personal touch for the show. The crowd was also very diverse, especially in terms of age, and they love hearing Franti and his band “Spearhead.”
Why I went
I was there simply shooting for myself and because I love Franti’s vibe. He’s super talented and does creative, catchy songs that are a mix of genres that include hip hop, funk, reggae, jazz reggae, fusion folk, jam band, dancehall, ska, pop industrial and avant-garde. This show made it clear that Franti is top of his game with a stellar group of band mates backing him. He also believes in getting out in the middle of his fans. Literally. He walked almost to the back of the large crowd a few times, and had strategeically placed platforms there allowing him and a few fans to get up as he kept singing and interacting the crowd. Franti is as much an activist and social commentator as anything else with his band. As part of the show, he encouraged the audience to get to know the people standing next to them, putting hands on shoulders and celebrating in being humans together in this world. It was a little like being in a very, very cool church.
The Farm-to-Fork Street Festival is part of the monthlong event organized and hosted by Visit Sacramento.
Equipment for Michael Franti Concert
- Nikon 780 body (smallest, lightest full-frame sensor Nikon bodies)
- Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom
- Small stepstool (“turtle”)
Outdoor concert photography has the usual set of predicatable challenges. If you’re not in the press pen up front (which can be very small, with limited and sometimes awkward angles) then being in the crowd near the front can be ideal. I brought my small collapsible stepstool (I have two). It boosts me from about 5/8″ to about 6’4″. That’s tall enough to get lots of good shots but not too obnoxious in terms of being way taller than everyone else around you. In fact, the tall guy in front of me said to fee free to hold onto him for balance if needed.
The blinding stage spots, the fading ambient light and of course all the movement of the performers all lead to trying to shoot as wide open as possible, avoiding the uber bright spots unless it’s for a specific effect like when Franti’s raising his hands up. The 70-200 lens is heavy, but not terrible for one set when I’m well rested and feeling strong. and steady.
* * *
All photos are copyright Chris Allan and cannot be used without my written permission. Please contact me for usage rights. Thank you for reading my blog post “Popular performer Michael Franti slays it at the Farm-to-Fork Street Festival.” To learn more about me and my work, please see my About page.