EPUK Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland. The private mailing list and public resource for editorial photographers

The cashier in the Indian Coffee House in Nagpur, India by Stuart Freedman, from The Palaces of Memory - Tales from the Indian Coffee House

1 August 2016

Stuart Freedman is a photographer and writer based between London and New Delhi. A member of Panos Pictures he has, over the last two decades, covered stories from Albania to Zambia. His work has appeared in, amongst others, Life, Geo, Time, The Sunday Times magazine, Der Spiegel, Condé Nast Traveller and Smithsonian. He has been exhibited widely and his work has received recognition from Amnesty International, POYi, World Sports Photo, The AOP, The RPS, UNICEF and the World Press Masterclass.

His new book, The Palaces of Memory - Tales from the Indian Coffee House (introduction by Amit Chaudhuri) was a finalist for best photography book 2016 at POYi and is available from Dewi Lewis or signed, directly from the author by emailing mail@stuartfreedman.com.

Way back in the mid 90s when I first came to work (and sometimes live) in India, the Indian Coffee House in New Delhi became a refuge for me away from the madness of the streets. It also became a place that in some senses translated that madness into a form which as a young journalist I could just about understand. The people I met in the coffee house - mostly old men who engaged me in talk of politics and poetry (and occasionally cricket of which I still know nothing) were the same people that I’d known in the greasy-spoon cafes of my youth in Hackney in London. In 2009 when the Coffee House in Delhi was threatened with closure because of vast debts, I began to learn about the complex role the Coffee Houses (a national chain of worker-owned co-operatives) had played in Independence and the political and cultural landscape of modern India. I wrote a long 5000 word story for a German magazine about the history and culture of the movement (a kind of faded Indian Left Bank) and for the very first time, made a set of images at the Coffee House. When the opportunity arose to do a story in Jaipur for a travel magazine, I deliberately included the Coffee House there and then decided that there was enough material for the basis of a book. I took another assignment in Kolkata and wrote about the most famous Coffee House there and then set off around India to photograph thirty of the most significant and beautiful. The idea was to make a set of images that didn’t pander to the usual narrative of poverty or exotica but showed an everyday India - and one that was a closing window on the Nehruvian world being eclipsed by the market.

The image here was taken in Nagpur, the town the British used to triangulate the exact centre of India. I sat in the Coffee House here all day (perhaps six to seven hours) making very unsatisfactory pictures and then late in the afternoon the bored cashier, doodling his shift away, moved his fingers and gave me what I needed: a subtle gesture amidst a sea of monotony (and the wonderful Pesto-Flash) that said what I felt. The image was shot, like perhaps 70% of the book, quite simply on a 50mm lens.

See more work by Stuart Freedman

EPUK is discussing:

Copyright infringements abroad and how to manage themCOVID-19 and photographyEPUK Members Lockdown ShowcasePhotographing in public places - where/when/is it allowed?

What is EPUK?

EPUK is an email group for professional editorial photographers who want to talk business. We don’t do techie stuff or in-crowd gossip. We don’t talk cameras or computers. What we talk about are the nuts and bolts of being in business - like copyright, licensing, fees and insurance.

Donate to EPUK

EPUK is run on a not-for-profit basis, funded solely by advertising, donations and hosting other lists. You can make a donation to EPUK through Paypal here:

Donate Now with PayPal

Site content is © original authors. To reproduce any content on this website, contact editor@epuk.org who will put you in touch with the copyright holder. You can read our privacy policy. Any advice given on this site is not intended to replace professional advice, and EPUK and its authors accept no liability for loss or damage arising from any errors or omissions. EPUK is not responsible for third party content, such as epuk.org adverts, other websites linked to from epuk.org, or comments added to articles by visitors.