Elska Magazine: 13 most memorable photoshoots

Gay men’s magazine Elska is currently celebrating its second anniversary. For two years the editorial team of Elska has brought intimate portrayals of men from across the globe, in photos and writing. In light of that we asked editor Liam Campbell to recount the most memorable photo shoots.

1) Sasha K, Lviv (Ukraine) – “Lviv was the first ever Elska city, and we shot Sasha on the first day there, so I’ll always have fond memories of him even if he hadn’t been really enthusiastic and sweet, which he was! When he arrived at the flat I was staying at, I first offered some tea and shortbread biscuits that I brought along from England. He really adored them, eating like ten of them as my assistant Andriy interpreted for him into Ukrainian what we were going to do. Then we took a walk around the old city to shoot, running into trouble from someone who tried to bribe us for being on what he called but actually wasn’t “private property”. Then we ended up with a small crowd of elderly ladies when he went topless in a public park. And finally when we returned back to the flat and were about to say goodbye, Andriy suggested, half-jokingly, that he come in to do a full nude shoot. He agreed to our surprise, and the first Elska nude happened there in my little Ukrainian kitchen.”

Sasha K, Lviv (Ukraine).

2) Davið J, Reykjavík (Iceland) – “We met Davíð at his flat where he made coffee, dished out loads of cakes and funny salty sweets, and chatted. I was playing with his little animals too and then his bunny bit me, which startled me into remembering that it was late November and the sun would be setting early. So we rushed out to Hvalfjörður where Davíð wanted to shoot. It was maybe two degrees at most and very windy, but Davíð was determined to do a nude shoot. So basically what we did was to leave his car running with the heat cranked up so we could have warm-up breaks in there after every twenty or so frames outside. He was definitely the most determined subject I ever shot, so whenever guys in later shoots complain about cold or rain or whatever, I tell them about Davíð.”

Davið J, Reykjavík (Iceland).

3) Roman T, Berlin (Germany) – “It’s interesting that sometimes guys we meet on the road are really friendly and hospitable and other times it’s all business. It’s even more interesting that some cities tend to have more cordial people than others (Mumbai being probably the warmest and our next edition Helsinki being the coldest). Anyway, the most hospitable guy ever met during any Elska shoot was Roman T in Berlin. Right after we finished working, he popped the cork off a bottle of bubbly and then cooked dinner for us. It might have had to do with him being a native Russian though – most Slavs I’ve shot have been more on the hospitable side.”

Roman T, Berlin (Germany).

4) Tusan C, Reykjavík (Iceland) – “This was truly one of the most bizarre experiences. He wanted to do a nude shoot but insisted that if he were to pose naked, that me and my assistant Andriy would have to be naked too. So we did, and you know, it’s awkward at first but soon you forget that you have no clothes on and just get to work. I’ll always remember sitting there after we finished working, drinking tea on his sofa while still naked and not even noticing the nudity. I’ve never done anything like that again since, but would again one day.”

Tusan C, Reykjavík (Iceland).

5) Daniel T, Lisbon (Portugal) – “From the start of the shoot I saw that Daniel always had his hands in his pockets. He kind of had this pouty, moody look so it worked for me, but then I noticed he would also sometimes leave his sleeves hanging really low with his hands tucked inside. This I thought just looked weird, so I actually scolded him. Then I was so embarrassed when he revealed that he has a congenital hand deformity, which I had no idea about, and he just didn’t want to show it in pictures. I kind of wish that he did want to reveal it to the camera, but he just wasn’t ready, although he did write about it in his Elska story.”

Daniel T, Lisbon (Portugal).

6) Chris C, Taipei (Taiwan) – “Even though I’m a pretty boring, monogamous, old-fashioned sort of married guy, there are times when you just connect with someone. I remember sitting in this little room with Chris chatting after we finished shooting, and we kept making that sort of eye contact that tries to lure you into a kiss, but I was trying to resist it. Then fortunately for me, right when it was getting a bit too difficult, my Taipei assistant Roman arrived and totally rebooted the mood. Later when Chris sent his story, I found out that he was feeling the same thing, so it could have turned into a very sticky situation, literally!”

Chris C, Taipei (Taiwan).

Serkan T, Istanbul (Turkey).

7) Serkan T & Lola, Istanbul (Turkey) – “I was in Istanbul on some gay app, Hornet I think, looking for more people to shoot, and I started chatting to Serkan. He was really into the idea but then suddenly it was revealed that the person typing wasn’t Serkan, but his friend Lola, typing on his behalf because Serkan didn’t speak English. Anyway Lola said Serkan would love to shoot but she’d need to come with to translate, which I was ok with. Then she asked if maybe I could take a few pics of her just as a favour, and I agreed. However when we met I realised that I was being totally used… Lola had a huge bag full of outfits and was expecting a full-on free photoshoot, with Serkan kind of on the sidelines. On one hand I was annoyed, but on the other I found the experience shooting this trans woman in the streets of Istanbul exhilarating, watching men hoot and holler at her, while she would revel in teasing and shouting back at them. Ultimately I didn’t publish Serkan in the main Elska Istanbul issue though, because I just didn’t think he ever wanted to be part of it. It was all Lola.”

Lola, Istanbul (Turkey).

8) Jack S, Cardiff (Wales) – “Originally the plan was just to shoot Jack at home, but when we met he had this impromptu suggestion to go shoot in Cardiff Castle – not ‘at’ the castle but ‘in’ the castle. He revealed that he worked there and had full access, so we went for it. Not only did we get a tour of the castle but a secret tour too because we had to stay out of the way of the tour groups and go into roped off private rooms instead. It was such a special experience, but even beyond memories, I have a physical souvenir too… When I tried to open an old door, the heavy iron handle fell off, and I put it in my bag. It now sits in my home next to a pile of Elskas.”

Jack S, Cardiff (Wales).

9) Tate S, Toronto (Canada) – “Shooting Tate was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had shooting. Most of the guys shot in Elska are gay and sometimes this can create a sort of tension, but Tate was straight and it just felt easy with him. I remember walking around the neighbourhood shooting and just feeling like we were hanging out rather than working, listening to his stories, and ogling his cute friend Samson who’d tagged along (and who probably also was straight). Anyway when we returned to Tate’s place, he suggested we go to the rooftop pool in his building ‘cos there were some great views of the skyline from the windows there. Then when he took his shirt off I saw the scars of his double mastectomy and I had to tell him that scars are something I won’t Photoshop away for Elska. I didn’t know what he would say but I really admired that he wasn’t ashamed to show himself fully, without worry.”

Tate S, Toronto (Canada).

10) Harvey S & Justin Trudeau, Toronto (Canada) – “I remember being really relaxed with Harvey. The shoot really went slowly. We drank wine, listened to music, chatted and relaxed. Then he started showing me all these cool shirts, some of them that he designed himself, and one amazing one with an image on it of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau riding a moose while Canadian geese fly overhead. We had to use this top but I felt he had to have his dick out for full impact, ‘cos who doesn’t want to see Trudeau naked, right? I loved the images we made, and I only wish the world was ready for that much nudity or I’d have put one of those Trudeau-dick pics on the cover!”

11) Martin F, Providence (USA) – “Martin F was one of those people who really showed me what a small world it is. First of all he told me that he used to live in Iceland and knew quite well some of the guys from the Elska edition made there. Then I discovered that he was from Brittany, a part of France that is famous for a pastry called kouign amann that I used to get all the time from a local bakery when I lived in Montréal. Then after the shoot we went to a French bakery in Providence called Seven Stars where they make it. And he told me they were quite authentic too. Then recently I ran into a girl at a café who used to live with him, and we spent ages talking about him. I’m convinced that I’ll run into him again one day, that the coincidences will continue.”

Martin F, Providence (USA).

12) Pieterjan V & Nikolas L, Brussels (Belgium) – “Since the start of Elska I’ve always had a difficult time dealing with it when anyone refers to Elska as ‘erotic’. It makes me uncomfortable, like the word is too close to ‘porn’. Although I don’t have a problem with pornography, I’m not trying to make it. But these guys got me the closest to porn that I’ve ever been. Halfway through the shoot, they started getting extra intimate, with one in particular becoming noticeably excited. I kept interrupting them to ask if I should stop shooting, and they kept telling me to keep going. Eventually however, I did decide to stop and I left to let them ‘finish’ on their own because I know also that when you are under the influence of libido, you can do things you might regret later. But part of me wishes I’d stayed though, just to see what would happen!”

Pieterjan V & Nikolas L, Brussels (Belgium).

13) Ruben L, Brussels (Belgium) – “We were standing in Ruben’s kitchen discussing what he was planning to write for his Elska story, and he kept saying he was gonna write about cyborgs. I didn’t get it, so I was trying to explain that the Elska stories aren’t supposed to be fiction, and certainly not sci-fi. Then he took his shirt off, grabbed my hand and pressed it onto his chest. I felt this weird plasticky thing under his skin and instantly recoiled. “What is that?” I cried, thinking it was some sort of extreme piercing gone wrong, and he revealed it was a sort of pacemaker. I just never expected something like that on a guy so young. Finally it made sense why he was planning to write about a cyborg, because the cyborg was him.”

Ruben L, Brussels (Belgium).

Main photo: Ibrahim, Istanbul, Turkey.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.



        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at www.nasdaq.com.

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater
        comes from 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals—the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

        From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

        Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

        The Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

        Whales of Iceland
        - larger than life

        Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

        - leading financial institution

        Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

        The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

        Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

        The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

        Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

        Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

        It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

        Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

        Aurora Reykjavik
        - northern lights center

          Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

          Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

          The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

          Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

          Contact Aurora

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            - get inspired

            Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

            Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

            More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

            VSÓ Ráðgjöf


              VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

              - for all your Apple needs

              From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

              Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
              For all your Apple needs. We are here.

              Ísey skyr
              - once tasted never forgotten

              Our Story
              Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

              For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

              Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
              This is our secret and you are in on it

              You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

              - noodle bar

              Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

              All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
              We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
              Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

              Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

              - adventure cruise

              Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
              and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

              The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


              This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


              The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

              Birds, possible to spot:
              -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
              -eider ducks
              -white-tailed eagle

              The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
              Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

              Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

              Contact Us

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