One of the problems I come up against in every Elska city is confusion over our style. The vast majority of subjects we meet have never heard of Elska, let alone seen a copy. Probably they'd had a look at the website and maybe looked around social media, giving them some clue of what we do, but only a vague one. Ideally our goal is to have a casual, authentic approach to style and setting, sort of like a documentary, but many assume it will be like a fashion editorial, very stylised, storyboarded, and contrived.
It is true that in the early stages of Elska, shoots were a bit more planned out. Elska Lviv, our first edition, made use of specialised locations, interfered with wardrobe and styling, and also employed various artificial lighting techniques. It was the way I was used to working, but as I grew to understand more of what I wanted for Elska, I was able to change. The only thing that really hasn't changed since the beginning was a strong desire to capture something natural in movement and expression, avoiding poses at all costs.
Elska Haifa was particularly tough to make in this regard, with a few guys being very forceful in their desire to control and direct the shoot. But Hany was the most controlled man ever met for Elska. OK, maybe that's unfair to put it like that, but I certainly remember fighting him over his unwillingness to smile, because he didn't want readers to see him that way for some reason. Maybe he thought his smile wasn't attractive, or maybe he was just trying to portray a certain image of himself to the world.
I tried my best to get him to break, but he was too strong. My usual tricks to get someone to drop their guard (which I am keeping secret) didn't work. All my jokes fell flat as well. And the one time that I did manage to get a laugh, he promptly forced me to delete the photo I'd just taken. When it came time to put together the final edit of Elska Haifa, and considering that some men would need to be cut, I did consider leaving Hany out. However, even if for me it was frustrating, the poutyness he put forth was an accurate representation of him at that moment, and it's his right not to smile if he doesn't want to.
P.S. I did manage to sneak one photo where he cracks a smile, but I didn't publish it. If I had, I'm sure he'd have tracked me down to my home and burnt my house down!