Dia was the third guy shot for the Elska Haifa series. I met him in Wadi Nisnas, a bustling old Arab neighbourhood in central Haifa which became one of my favourite parts of the city. I even returned a couple times after the shoot, once for a proper good kebab, and once for amazing falafel. Anyway, I remember that even though we were meeting at 8am, it was already baking hot, so I was uncomfortably sweaty after the mere fifteen minute walk I had from my room at The Colony Hotel to there. From one look at my face, he grabbed several sheets of tissue from his bag and handed them straight over. I must have looked a total mess!
We started with a little walk in the neighbourhood. The original plan was to later go to his friend's house to shoot some nudes (he didn't want to use his own place because his mum was home), but then Dia suggested we sneak into this abandoned, crumbling building and shoot there. I remembered the joys of shooting in broken buildings, which we did twice when shooting Elska Lviv, so I couldn't resist.
Inside, the house was a disaster zone, but the light was amazing, so we carried on. But then I stepped on something, a nail, and I felt it go through my cheap Primark trainers and slide between my first and second toes. I couldn't tell at first if it hurt because I was too shocked. All I could tell was that my foot didn't feel wet, so I knew it wasn't bleeding. I considered taking my shoe off to examine more, but with no running water or other way to clean it, I thought it best to leave it covered. So we continued shooting and I considered myself very lucky that it didn't go straight through my flesh.
I thought I was lucky but over the next days I started getting a lot of pain when walking, caused by a nasty blood blister, making it hard to walk let alone shoot. I was kind of freaking out, though I did comfort myself when I checked that the tetanus booster I needed for my flight attendant job was still recent enough. Plus I contacted Semion K, one of the other guys featured in Elska Haifa, who is a doctor. He helped me calm down a lot.
In the end do I wish I didn't go in that abandoned house with Dia? Nah, some of those shots were truly gorgeous.
P.S. I chose not to use this space to write much about Dia. The story he wrote is one of the most lovely and thoughtful pieces to grace Elska's pages. So I'll let you get to know him through his words and his images there.