Queer travel bookazine Elska is celebrating its two year birthday this month!
So far, 12 issues of the publication have been released, each featuring evocative photography of men in a different city around the world.
From Providence, USA to Reykjavik, Iceland to Berlin, Germany, all men – regardless of their size, shape, race or sexuality – are invited to take part in the shoots. However, a large proportion of the guys featured end up being queer.
Here are 11 striking portraits from the issues so far, with a quote from Elska editor Liam Campbell elaborating on the experience of shooting in the city in question…
Liam on shooting in Istanbul, Turkey
‘This was a real eye-opener for me. I assumed that because Turkey is a Muslim country that it would be conservative. I thought it would be near-impossible to find guys willing to participate in a mainly gay publication, let alone people who might do nude shoots. But I was so wrong.’
‘Istanbul is full of people defiantly living contrary to the ultra-Islamist goals of the current government, so for me, I found them the most daring, open, and up-for-anything of any Elska city. It’s also the city I’d most like to return to for a visit, and maybe one day a second volume.’
Liam on shooting in Lisbon, Portugal
‘The old architecture, the steep urban hills, the quaint trams, the warm colours, the beautiful tiles, the sun and sea… Lisbon is perhaps the most beautiful city we’ve shot in. But it was also a bit of a pain putting the issue together!’
‘I guess it’s something about that lazy Mediterranean attitude, but it was really hard getting these guys to submit their stories by the print deadline. It meant quite a few cuts, so it was fortunate that we shot a good deal more guys than could have fit in the mag anyway.’
Liam on shooting in Cardiff, Wales
‘I’ll always remember this as the disaster city because on the sixth day of shooting, my computer died, and I’d not backed up my photos to the cloud since after the first day, meaning I’d potentially lost ten shoots!
‘At least Cardiff was only a train ride from my home in London if I’d needed to return to shoot more, but fortunately the hard drive was able to be rescued and almost everything was saved. I’ll also remember Cardiff as a place that really proved to me that the UK isn’t all about England. The culture here felt so different, truly like a different culture, and I was proud to demonstrate that to readers.’
Liam on shooting in Brussels, Belgium
‘This most recent edition has my favourite cover because it has a sort of fashion element that I adore!’
‘But mainly Brussels sticks out because of the crazy experience I had shooting two guys who started to have sex during the shoot. Perhaps unfortunately for readers I decided to turn off the camera off when it got too “porny”, but it certainly demonstrated the openness of people here in the capital of Europe.’
Liam on shooting in Lviv, Ukraine
‘This was the experiment, before I really knew what I wanted to do with Elska and how to do it. I started by making the stupid mistake of only coming for four days, but somehow we managed to shoot 13 guys in that time.
‘I then made other mistakes, like only suggesting that the guys write a story. Still, the Ukrainian men are probably universally the most attractive people I’d seen in any Elska city, so even without many stories, it’s not a bad issue to leaf through!’
Liam on shooting in Reykjavik, Iceland
‘A lot of people think that Elska is an Icelandic publication because of the name, which does indeed mean “love” in its verb form in Icelandic. But even though Elska is actually an Anglo-American production, doing an edition in Iceland felt like a homecoming because it’s a country I’ve long had a love affair with.
‘It was the first country abroad I ever travelled to and sparked the love of travel that I’ve kept with me all my adult life. It’s also a country that has Elska sold in more shops than anywhere else. I like to say that Elska lives in the USA, was raised in the UK, but was born in Iceland.’
Liam on shooting in Yokohama, Japan
‘I love Japan and had a great time making this issue, partly because it’s an amazing culture and also partly because I managed to get my husband Mark to be my assistant shooting it! However, this was the most difficult edition to make. Guys were super-conservative, afraid even to take a shirt off in public, if I could convince them at all to participate.
‘Then to add to the frustration, they were slower to submit their stories than the Lisbon guys. This led me to actually postpone the publication of this edition by seven months. I arranged a last-minute issue in Cardiff to take its place. The end result is beautiful and surprisingly multicultural.’
Liam on shooting in Providence, USA
‘From the beginning I knew that eventually we’d have to feature a US city for Elska. But no one would have expected it to be Providence, Rhode Island rather than somewhere more known like New York or San Francisco.
‘But I went for it anyway. Because I just adore this city and hoped customers would buy it even if they’d never heard of the place.
‘In the end it’s actually my favourite issue for its diversity and quality of stories. Even though technically it’s our lowest seller. (Although it’s the third biggest seller among US customers). Still, it’s the one I like to show people who’ve never seen Elska. It’s the best example of what Elska is all about.’
To see a list of where Elska Magazine is sold around the world or to order a copy online, visit elskamagazine.com.