The next issue of ELSKA will be dedicated to Iceland. Photographers from the gay erotic magazine are currently in the country taking pictures. Editor says its been a pleasure working with Icelandic men, who are both open-minded and ready to go great lengths to get the job done.
“It’s been packed everyday – the first day we had six shoots, which was crazy. Then we had three but went to Vík and Seljavallalaug, so that was really busy. But today was easier, only three shoots so me and my assistant could actually sit down and have a cup of coffee,” says editor Liam Campbell, who is currently in Iceland doing photo shoots for an upcoming issue of gay erotic magazine “ELSKA”, which will be featuring local men and boys.
“We have 19 models booked and I think the goal was to have 15, we figured that at the last-minute someone would cancel and that has happened. It’ a very diverse group actually, the youngest is 20 and the oldest 54 – all living here but not all Icelandic. One from Turkey, one from France and one Brazilian, but the rest is Icelandic,” the 33-year-old Londoner goes on and adds that he actually had no idea that the population of Iceland was so diverse.
The last time we interviewed you, you said that it would be a dream come true if you would be able to shoot in Iceland but that you weren’t sure if you’d be able to get enough Icelandic men to participate. That fear was unnecessary then?
So was maybe it easier getting models than you expected?
“Yes. My assistant Andriy, who has been working with me since the first issue in September, just scouted for models on Facebook. He talked to one person who talked to another person and this snowballed that way. Actually, in some ways, even though Iceland is a smaller country than Germany it was way easier than Berlin (where the last issue of ELSKA was shot). At least everybody answered us. In Berlin we would perhaps not even get a reply.”
Did the men have to go through auditions or fulfill some special requirements to be approved?
“At the moment everybody who says they wanna do it – can be in it. Of course, if everybody who wanted to participate looked the same, you know, 22-year-old, blond and muscled, we would have to turn some away since we want to show diversity. But we’ve been lucky, we got a naturally good range. So no, just as long as they’re up for it and are local and are willing to write some text about themselves, which is a must, then they’re in. We even ask them what they want to do in the shoot. Whether they want it to be “artsy” or outdoor or more like a fashion shoot.”
“…a guy said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable posing naked unless I and Andriy also took our clothes off. And so we did! I found it a bit embarrassing…”
Asked how its been working with the models, Liam says that the experience been interesting. “Because in a way they’re really open-minded – but at the same time there is a more conservative element here too. At first they were fine, saying: “Well, people see me at the swimming pool anyways so…” But when we met, some were a bit more shy and said they might not want to be totally naked, explaining that they’re were afraid that a co-worker or someone close to them might see the photos. A little bit of shyness, which is understandable considering how small the country is.
There was even an incident where a guy said that he wouldn’t feel comfortable posing naked unless I and Andriy also took our clothes off. And so we did! I found it a bit embarrassing, especially at first, but then I kinda got used to it. So now at least I know what it feels like!” (Laughs.)
Liam says that Icelanders differ from other nationalities that he’s previously worked with. “There is one thing I noticed for sure. Icelanders can have their photos taken, maybe just in a t-shirt, out in the freezing cold, and NO PROBLEM. When we tried to bring a guy of another nationality for an outdoor shoot it honestly didn’t work; he looked cold and so miserable. The Icelanders looked cold, sure, but NOT miserable.” (Laughs.)
Asked whether he’s not worried about violating that law, since the Icelandic criminal law nr. 210, section 2, states that it can result in up to 6 months jail time to publish porn, Liam says he’s not.
“I looked at the dictionary definition where it says that you must have the intent to get someone sexually excited which is not my intent. My pictures are not really sexually arousing. Some might look at it and get excited but that is not my intent. Maybe the Icelandic definition of the word “porn” is different, I don’t know.”
On a lighter note, when will the “Icelandic issue” come out?
“In beginning of January – 1st or 2nd – so it will be a happy new year present!”
And what else is scheduled for “ELSKA magazine”?
“The issues after that will come out in March. It will be shot in Lisbon. And hopefully we can get more subscribers and more buyers – so we can go to Asia and South America,” he says.
Liam says that the outdoor shoots take the longest time to prepare. “I spend a lot of time going through Google Maps, trying to find a good location, a beautiful street or something. But as the work progressed I’ve figured out that I want each shoot to be more about the model involved than any story I planned to put on it. For example there was some knitting in the home of one of the models and I asked him if he didn’t want to use that as a prop in the shoot because I want to try to make it more personal. So some shoots benefit if I’m less prepared, which of course also makes me more nervous because I don’t know what to expect when I get there.” Here one of the photographers can be seen working in Öskjuhlíð (an old cruising area), with church Hallgrímskirkja in the background.