The TDC and me

I hold no illusions about the Tourism Development Company and its relationship with the local photographic community. In a previous incarnation as TIDCO, this arm of local tourism promotion entered into lengthy discussions and negotiations with me for a photographic project and two assignments into what was supposed to be a number of photography sessions, they abruptly cancelled the contract.
When I called to discuss the matter, I was informed that payment would be arbitrarily reduced and if I remember the quote accurately, they had “more lawyers that I did.”

A few years later, a member of the TDC leadership asked for a meeting with Lennox Grant and myself when we were at the Trinidad Express. The gist of that meeting was that the tourism company seemed to think that the Express should give them Carnival related content for free throughout the season, “in the national interest.” We left that meeting with a deep confusion that has never since been resolved. The content was not provided.

Last year, I got an e-mail from someone claiming to be from the German arm of TDC. Their leadership apparently liked the work I had done on the Making Mas series I produced for the Trinidad Guardian.
We exchanged e-mails for some weeks and finally, I got a phone call about the matter.
The call went something like this, to the best of my recollection...
“We’d really like to use your photos; they really explain how Carnival gets made.”
“Sure, what’s your budget?”
Long silence.

“We thought that you might like to have the opportunity to show your work to a new audience.”
“Um, it’s already on the Internet. That’s how you found it.”
Eventually, I sent the young woman an e-mail suggesting that money need not change hands for both of us to pursue our interests. I offered to give some talks about the project, supported by multimedia and possibly an exhibition.
The silence following that communication has lasted to this day.

Based on conversations with colleagues, I believe that I am neither exotic (read foreign) enough to hold the interest of local tourism professionals nor am I submissive and needy enough to offer my work for free “for the good of the country.”
So the TDC can continue to do their thing and I will continue to do mine.
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