Do you know who Vicente Fernández is? I didn’t until last week when I got to shoot him in concert at the Valley View Casino Center. That’s when I found out that I had been living under a rock. Vicente Fernández might have started his career singing for tips on the street, but know he fills concert venues around the world and has become a Mexican cultural icon. He has recorded more than 50 albums during his 35-plus years of performing. His repertoire is pure ranchera, a style described by the Miami Herald as representing “the Mexico of old – a way of life romanticized by rural ranches, revolution, and philandering caballeros“.

The show was really a lot of fun to watch and to listen to. The outfits were awesome… how many times can you say that you photographed a singer who was wearing a gun belt and gun on stage? The rules this time out were rather simple, first two songs from inside the photo pit then done. I arrived to find a few other photographers and reporters waiting on the back ramp of the venue. I already had my press wristband as it was waiting at the venue production office so there were no problems when the press representative from the tour showed up to escort us into the building. First up was a presentation to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund for $2500, then the music started. There were two opening acts who gave the audience a taste of what was to come, then at 8:30pm, Vicente took the stage as the second opening act walked off. There was no warning that he was about to take the stage and only because I was paying attention to both the clock and the stage hands did I manage to get in position a few seconds into the first song. The lights were bright and Vicente used the whole stage so shooting was actually pretty easy. I shot with both a Nikon D3 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 and Nikon D700 with a 24070mm f/2.8 and 16mm f/2.8 fisheye.

This was the first show that I used a ThinkTank ShapeShifter backpack to carry my gear. This worked out great. I had everything in the bag, then I pulled out and set up the two cameras, shot the show with the bag compressed and on my back. What happened after the first two songs was quite funny. I walked out of the photo pit and went to the side to take the backpack off and load the cameras back into their respective pockets when one of the crew walked up and cut the press wristband off my wrist. I continued to pack my bag and started to walk out the building when the main press representative came up and said that since I was shooting for the building I was welcome to continue shooting as long as it wasn’t in the photo pit. A new press wrist band was then stuck around my wrist and I went back in to get the one overall shot that I really like to capture when shooting for the venue.