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Photographers protest high fees to cover mas, pan & more

The Trinidad Guardian


It’s wrong and unethical


Contrary to popular belief—and, apparently, the belief of Carnival special interest groups—photographers don’t make a lot of money from covering Carnival.  This year, Carnival stakeholders—the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA), Pan Trinbago and the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO)—raised the licence fees for Carnival coverage by amateur and freelance photographers. 


Some prominent photographers fear the demand for fees will reduce the coverage the festival gets and the way it is recorded for posterity. In a telephone interview with the T&T Guardian on Monday, independent photographer Maria Nunes said she paid $8,100 in licence fees to the NCC, the NCBA and Pan Trinbago to cover Carnival 2013 events. 


....Andrea de Silva, a photographer who works for the international news agency Reuters, said in a telephone interview yesterday she saw the licence fees for coverage of  Carnival as “wrong and unethical.” De Silva said in 2010 she covered the local Carnival events for Reuters and was required to pay an accreditation fee of US$250. In 2011, she paid TT$2,000 to cover Carnival events. 


That was the last year she paid these licence fees. She said paying for coverage of any event is against Reuters’ policy. “It is wrong for any organisation, be it the NCC or anybody else, to charge the media to cover any event,” she said.


De Silva, a former T&T Guardian chief photographer, said she has covered events all over the world and has never been made to pay for such coverage. She said the reason she had paid the licence fees in the past was that she saw the need to promote T&T Carnival on the world stage. This year, she said, she saw a major decrease in the number of photographers during the Carnival season.

"I am sure this is because of the exorbitant fees. Who is going to benefit from this in the long term? By promoting the festival, we stand to benefit," she added. She said statistics showed the majority of visitors to Trinidad during the Carnival season were from the T&T diaspora and it was important to allow people to capture the spirit of Carnival through photos in order to attract foreigners to take part in the national festival.

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