Coming Soon: Elska Reykjavík Reissue + New Cover

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First of all, the image here is pixellated on purpose... 'cos we like a bit of mystery.

Anyway, we have just ordered the sixth reprint of our Elska Reykjavík edition. But this time we've changed a few things, including a new cover and several images inside. 

If you'd like to order your copy, it will be available in about a week so keep an eye on our website for details. However, if you'd like the downloadable e-version, the new version is available now! Oh, and if you'd like the original version, there are literally six copies left, so be quick!

Click here to order your copy!

Two Tonis… with Toni K from Elska Helsinki

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There were originally two people named Toni K on the Elska Helsinki shoot schedule. The guy you see here is the second, but the first Toni K was never shot for the edition.

Toni K-1 was actually the first person found for Helsinki. He wrote to us with just a speculative email saying that he’d love to take part if we ever planned to come to Helsinki. When we did decide to come, he was the first to know and he first to go onto the schedule. However, despite his enthusiasm, I didn’t get a story from him. Then a week before the shoot I sent a reminder but got no reply. I even saw the two little blue ticks on WhatsApp indicating he’d read the message I sent. I'm not sure what happened because...

Read more on our exclusive Patreon blog.

Bogotá Calling

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Hola elskans! We can officially announce that our fifteenth edition will be made in Bogotá, Colombia. It's our first time in a Latin country (or does Portugal count?); it's also our first time in the southern hemisphere (well, not quite, but really close).

So if you'd like to be photographed by us and write a story for our Elska Bogotá edition, send us a message, preferably by email, to elskaservice@gmail.com. We'll be there from 8 - 15 November. 

As always, everyone is welcome no matter where you were born, how old you are, what colour you are, or what size jeans you wear. The only criteria is that you must live in Bogotá.

The Shiest Place... with Elias K for Elska Helsinki

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Elias K was the eleventh guy shot in Helsinki, right toward the end of Elska Shoot Week. As was discussed a bit in the 'editor's welcome' in the main Elska Helsinki edition, this city was the most shiest place so far of any Elska city. Considering that this is the thirteenth location we've visited, that's quite a feat. By the time I met Elias, the eleventh guy shot for Elska Helsinki, there hadn't been anyone wanting to do a nude shoot yet, at least not ethnic Finns (we shot two other nudes in Helsinki, but they had non-Finnish ethnic origins).

OK, so maybe it's not fair to separate ethnic Finns from non-ethnic Finns. Elska has always held the belief that you only need to live in the city to be a local - not that you have to be able to trace your ancestry five generations back to there! However I found it strange that no Finnish-blooded men wanted to bare all, even though they're famous for sauna-ing in the buff. There just had to be a reason.

I tried to investigate, and it...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

Chwała Bogu for Poland... with Marcin Z from Elska Helsinki

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In the last Patreon blog entry, I wrote about how Helsinki was our shiest, least nude edition so far. What you may have sensed even if I didn't quite express it there, is that this fact annoyed me. While I do like that Elska isn't completely full of nudes, and while I too enjoy the cultural insight gained from how each editions' nudity levels vary, I do want a certain minimum of nudes. Why?

Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

elska x hotel katajanokka

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Eddie showed up outside my hotel with a load of bags. I assumed he was just really over-prepared for our shoot, but then he said, “Hey, can I leave these in your room for a while? My new place isn’t ready yet.” It turns out he’d just gotten off an eight-hour bus ride from his home village to Helsinki, and he was here to stay.

Wide-eyed and excited about this new chapter in his life, I invited him in and showed him around. He wouldn’t stop pausing to take pictures on his phone: the fortress-like brick wall built around the hotel, the expansive vegetable garden outside the restaurant, the strange and cavelike basement nooks, corridors adorned with imposing metal gates, and everywhere old photos that told you the history of this place. Between 1837 and 2002, Hotel Katajanokka was a prison.

Its past is treated with respect and isn’t used as a gimmick. The transformation was very tastefully done, decorated in that exquisite Nordic way that balances plush with minimal; luxe with understated. Rooms are well-equipped and the wifi is the fastest of any hotel I’ve ever stayed in anywhere. Oh, and some rooms even have personal saunas – something I’m sure the old prison cells never had, not even in Finland!

So Eddie and I hung out for a while and then went out to shoot. There’s a tram stop literally in front of the entrance that takes you to the city centre in just three stops... in case you’re too tired to walk the ten minutes. But we opted to stay on the island, checking out the marina to the north, watching Russian tourists disembark from ships at the port to the south, and then stopping at a farmers market to the west. From there we walked back to the hotel, took a few more pics inside the room, and then enjoyed the punnet of fresh Finnish strawberries we’d just bought. Perfect!

Hotel Katajanokka, Merikasarminkatu 1, 00160 Helsinki, Finland

WWW.HOTELKATAJANOKKA.FI

"White Russians" with Kiryl K from Elska Helsinki

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I’ve probably mentioned it before somewhere, but although I did photography at college, I didn’t carry on with it in university. Rather I did languages and politics, developing a speciality in area studies of post-communist Eastern Europe. My bachelor’s dissertation was on the Jewish Autonomous Region of Russia (aka Birobidjan), my master’s focus was on democratisation in the Caucasus, and then I did one year of doctoral research on attitudes toward homosexuality in Post-Soviet Georgia. 

These experiences are a big part of why I often look at Elska through a lens of cultural anthropology. It’s also why I chose to start the project in a relatively obscure city in Ukraine called Lviv...

relatively obscure city in Ukraine called Lviv...

Read the full post on our Patreon blog.

Plastic... with Rubel L from Elska Brussels

Ruben was one of the handful of Brussels guys who didn't send their story ahead of time so while we were shooting at home I asked him what he was going to write about. He said he was going to write about a cyborg, which I thought was a joke, that he was playfully rejecting the idea of writing about himself and preferred to write a fiction piece instead. But he reiterated that he was serious about the cyborg thing. Based on my confused look, he took my hand... Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

Ruben was one of the handful of Brussels guys who didn't send their story ahead of time so while we were shooting at home I asked him what he was going to write about. He said he was going to write about a cyborg, which I thought was a joke, that he was playfully rejecting the idea of writing about himself and preferred to write a fiction piece instead. But he reiterated that he was serious about the cyborg thing.

Based on my confused look, he took my hand...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

Mons is not the suburbs... with Jian Kiang L from Elska Brussels

So I made a little mistake when shooting the Brussels issue. I agreed to shoot this lad called Jian Kiang, and when he told me he lived in Mons, no alarm bells rang. I just assumed it was a suburb of Brussels. But when I realised the day before that I'd have to spend an hour on the train plus a half hour walk to get to him, I was annoyed with myself.  It's not entirely my fault though. I'm pretty sure I found him... Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

So I made a little mistake when shooting the Brussels issue. I agreed to shoot this lad called Jian Kiang, and when he told me he lived in Mons, no alarm bells rang. I just assumed it was a suburb of Brussels. But when I realised the day before that I'd have to spend an hour on the train plus a half hour walk to get to him, I was annoyed with myself. 

It's not entirely my fault though. I'm pretty sure I found him...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog...

Carried Away... with Pieterjan V & Nikolas L from Elska Brussels

I've not shot many couples over the course of Elska, but there have been a few, and certainly Pieterjan and Nikolas were a highlight. Indeed we took so many great images together that at first glance I thought the final choice of photos would be impossible. On second glance however, choosing the final images to be published in print wasn't so difficult. Shooting two people at once is hard work. Some great images were spoiled by one of them not being in focus, or by one blinking, or by one just somehow looking goofy.  Then another problem was that during the course of shooting, they got a bit carried away. Pieterjan especially (the guy on the left)... Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

I've not shot many couples over the course of Elska, but there have been a few, and certainly Pieterjan and Nikolas were a highlight. Indeed we took so many great images together that at first glance I thought the final choice of photos would be impossible.

On second glance however, choosing the final images to be published in print wasn't so difficult. Shooting two people at once is hard work. Some great images were spoiled by one of them not being in focus, or by one blinking, or by one just somehow looking goofy. 

Then another problem was that during the course of shooting, they got a bit carried away. Pieterjan especially (the guy on the left)...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

Back to Iceland... with Haukur G from Elska Reykjavík

In twelve issues of Elska, our third issue, Elska Reykjavík, is still our top seller. And not by a hair either, but by nearly 20%. That third issue was our sort of homecoming adventure, the one we shot in Reykjavík, Iceland. It's the place that inspired the name of the magazine, and a place that I hold dear to my heart.  So mixing my love of Iceland and the love people have shown to our Icelandic issue, it would seem like a no-brainer to do another issue there. But could it work? Already Reykjavík, with less than 125,000 people, is a bit small to find enough guys. It probably only worked at all because the culture is so open and LGBTQ-friendly. But what about another city? Well, Iceland's second biggest city, Akureyri, has just 18,000 people.  So as much as I'd love to publish "Elska Akureyri" or "Elska Reykjavík vol. II", I just don't know if it could be done.  But maybe one day. 

In twelve issues of Elska, our third issue, Elska Reykjavík, is still our top seller. And not by a hair either, but by nearly 20%. That third issue was our sort of homecoming adventure, the one we shot in Reykjavík, Iceland. It's the place that inspired the name of the magazine, and a place that I hold dear to my heart. 

So mixing my love of Iceland and the love people have shown to our Icelandic issue, it would seem like a no-brainer to do another issue there. But could it work? Already Reykjavík, with less than 125,000 people, is a bit small to find enough guys. It probably only worked at all because the culture is so open and LGBTQ-friendly. But what about another city? Well, Iceland's second biggest city, Akureyri, has just 18,000 people.  So as much as I'd love to publish "Elska Akureyri" or "Elska Reykjavík vol. II", I just don't know if it could be done.  But maybe one day. 

If You Want To Get Naked… with Alexander H from Elska Providence

A funny thing happened while shooting Alexander H. We were walking around Hope Artiste Village, a repurposed former mill in Pawtucket, when we came across a really great mural inside the Kent Stetson boutique there. I wanted to do a few shots using it as a backdrop, so we went inside to ask permission.  Immediately Kent said yes, so we did a few shots. Then as we were getting ready to leave, Kent returned. Presumably he knew what Elska was because he said he’d be willing to... Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

A funny thing happened while shooting Alexander H. We were walking around Hope Artiste Village, a repurposed former mill in Pawtucket, when we came across a really great mural inside the Kent Stetson boutique there. I wanted to do a few shots using it as a backdrop, so we went inside to ask permission. 

Immediately Kent said yes, so we did a few shots. Then as we were getting ready to leave, Kent returned. Presumably he knew what Elska was because he said he’d be willing to...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

After Semen... with Semen M from Elska Lviv

Semen M was the last guy shot for the Lviv issue, our debut edition of Elska Magazine. It was the end of a week (or really 4 1/2 days) that was really an experiment. Certainly there were problems discovered and mistakes made during that first go, but it was a success, which is why almost two years later, there have been ten more Elskas produced.  I learned a lot from Semen  (pronounced 'seh-men' by the way). He was a friend of a friend of a friend, someone who heard we were shooting and wanted to take part. Since I'd never made an Elska before, the only... Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

Semen M was the last guy shot for the Lviv issue, our debut edition of Elska Magazine. It was the end of a week (or really 4 1/2 days) that was really an experiment. Certainly there were problems discovered and mistakes made during that first go, but it was a success, which is why almost two years later, there have been ten more Elskas produced. 

I learned a lot from Semen  (pronounced 'seh-men' by the way). He was a friend of a friend of a friend, someone who heard we were shooting and wanted to take part. Since I'd never made an Elska before, the only...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

elska x the marshall slocum inn

Rhode Island is beautiful, but it’s perhaps at its most lovely in Newport. This colonial town still looks like it must have looked three hundred years ago, complete with cobbled streets, city squares, and colourful old houses. The Marshall Slocum Inn is one of those old houses, and it was our home for the duration of our Rhode Island issue shoot week.  When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the owners, Dana, who was in the middle of baking batches of chocolate brownies and blueberry scones for the guests. This sort of welcome is what this place is all about, and we really did feel at home during our stay.  The Marshall Slocum Inn is a B&B that’s executed to a much more first class standard than many others. Each of the eleven suites are distinctly decorated in period furniture and elegant palettes, the linens are top notch, every room has its own private bathroom with plush towels and terry cloth robes, and there is a cosy dining room and lounge with a selection of books, magazines, and films to watch... and coffee is always on! Then there’s a gorgeous backyard deck for when you’re here in warmer months to while away the evenings with a bottle of wine and good conversation. You’re also close to everything, so you can leave your car out back and walk to restaurants, shops, cafés, and even to the beach. You’re also near to the oldest pub in America – the White Horse Tavern, founded in 1673. It’s only a seven minute walk from your room (I timed it), although there is space outside to tie your horse up if you’re really in a hurry to grab your pint! I really adored my time here, and even though I was shooting mainly in Providence, Rhode Island is such a small state that it was only a forty minute commute to and from the capital. So really you can see all of Rhode Island and stay in gorgeous Newport the entire time, hopefully right here at the Marshall Slocum Inn. And if you go, say hello from Elska. MARSHALL SLOCUM INN, 29 KAY STREET, NEWPORT, RI 02840, USA WWW.MARSHALLSLOCUMINN.COM / +1 401 841 5120

Rhode Island is beautiful, but it’s perhaps at its most lovely in Newport. This colonial town still looks like it must have looked three hundred years ago, complete with cobbled streets, city squares, and colourful old houses. The Marshall Slocum Inn is one of those old houses, and it was our home for the duration of our Rhode Island issue shoot week. 

When we arrived, we were greeted by one of the owners, Dana, who was in the middle of baking batches of chocolate brownies and blueberry scones for the guests. This sort of welcome is what this place is all about, and we really did feel at home during our stay. 

The Marshall Slocum Inn is a B&B that’s executed to a much more first class standard than many others. Each of the eleven suites are distinctly decorated in period furniture and elegant palettes, the linens are top notch, every room has its own private bathroom with plush towels and terry cloth robes, and there is a cosy dining room and lounge with a selection of books, magazines, and films to watch... and coffee is always on! Then there’s a gorgeous backyard deck for when you’re here in warmer months to while away the evenings with a bottle of wine and good conversation.

You’re also close to everything, so you can leave your car out back and walk to restaurants, shops, cafés, and even to the beach. You’re also near to the oldest pub in America – the White Horse Tavern, founded in 1673. It’s only a seven minute walk from your room (I timed it), although there is space outside to tie your horse up if you’re really in a hurry to grab your pint!

I really adored my time here, and even though I was shooting mainly in Providence, Rhode Island is such a small state that it was only a forty minute commute to and from the capital. So really you can see all of Rhode Island and stay in gorgeous Newport the entire time, hopefully right here at the Marshall Slocum Inn. And if you go, say hello from Elska.

MARSHALL SLOCUM INN, 29 KAY STREET, NEWPORT, RI 02840, USA

WWW.MARSHALLSLOCUMINN.COM / +1 401 841 5120

Our Last Minute Rhody Addition… with Samuel K-M from Elska Providence

For most Elska issues, we try to find all our boys in advance. This is both to ensure a smooth and efficient schedule and also to build some rapport with the subjects before we meet for the photoshoot. But usually some people cancel last-minute and leave some gaps in the schedule. This happened in Providence as well is with every issue since we began. I was sitting in The Shop, a great coffee place on Wickenden Street waiting to meet one of the guys, but he simply didn’t show up. After around... Continue reading on our Patreon blog.

For most Elska issues, we try to find all our boys in advance. This is both to ensure a smooth and efficient schedule and also to build some rapport with the subjects before we meet for the photoshoot. But usually some people cancel last-minute and leave some gaps in the schedule. This happened in Providence as well is with every issue since we began.

I was sitting in The Shop, a great coffee place on Wickenden Street waiting to meet one of the guys, but he simply didn’t show up. After around...

Continue reading on our Patreon blog.