Ana Cuba is the latest photographer to take on our new #StellaKidsBy series, capturing playful snapshots of home life in Japan. As the kids play on traditional tatami floors or sit down to eat, Ana documents a sweet innocence in her candid and distinctly soft photographs.
Drawn to a soft colour palette, hidden depths within her subjects are revealed and quietly invite the observer into the frame. Ana tells us more about her work and how she was inspired in our Stella Kids shoot.
What was it that first got you into photography?
I studied cinema at university and really enjoyed my degree, but the independence that photography gave me, without having to depend on anybody else, was what really got me. I also like the immediacy of photography compared to film. This way of making an image has definitely proved to be more suited to my personality.
You are from Spain and based in London. How have these locations influenced your work?
Coming from Spain I got used to working with beautiful, natural light. I work mostly in a studio environment in London and therefore I’ve learned how to light my images so I’m not dependant on the few days a year London gets sunny! London is also a great place to be for finding work; competition is high of course, but in a way that’s something I enjoy.
Your work covers a lot, from fashion to investigative to landscapes. How would you describe your work?
I enjoy working across disciplines; that’s what I love so much about my job. I feel so privileged to meet so many different people from all sorts of backgrounds and experience so many different situations. I couldn’t be just a fashion or reportage photographer – I crave it all! But there is consistency in my work from a visual point of view, no matter what I’m shooting.
What is your favourite subject to shoot?
It’s difficult to choose really. I love the freedom you get with fashion photography, but I still think my favourite thing about what I do is travelling to shoot in places where I have never been. I find the moment I land somewhere new, I get a very special kind of excitement and want to explore everything!
You shot this story in Japan – tell us about the concept and how the location inspired you.
I wanted to do a story inspired by a Japanese comedy film I remember watching years ago during university, called Good Morning by director Yasujirō Ozu. The film is set in the late 50s and takes place in suburban Tokyo, telling the story of two young boys that go into a silence strike when their parents refuse to buy them a television. Such a simple idea but so well executed – the whole film is beautifully lighted and composed. I have used Ozu’s world as the main inspiration; from the location in the outskirts of Tokyo, to the casting of the two boys who have a likeness to the actors in the film.
Our Stella Kids collection is very playful. Did that influence the story?
I wanted to recreate that late 50s Japanese domestic world, and I found Stella Kids had clothes that could totally work for the images I was trying to create. I especially loved the mountain print sweaters.
How is it working with the children on set?
It was so much fun! They were the best behaved kids you can imagine. The mums would also help me to keep the kids focused. At one point, the youngest boy, Otoya, was literally falling asleep on the tatami floor and his mum had to keep waking him up. Too cute!
Tell us about your experience of Japan.
I recently spent a month there working on projects such as this story, but also having some time off which I felt I really needed. It was incredible to immerse myself in the country for so long. Japan is so different in every single aspect of what I’m used to; it was definitely challenging to navigate at times, but nothing wrong with getting a bit lost.
What does the future look like?
I’m very much looking forward getting on with work in London. I’m a bit of a workaholic and I feel I’ve had enough of a break so I’ve coming back with lots of energy, which is a nice feeling to have.