Men’s magazine Elska is celebrating its fourth birthday in September.

”I like to think of Elska as some kind of sexy anthropology journal,” explained 33-year-old editor and photographer Liam Campbell in 2015 when he launched the publication. Since then, Liam has traveled to more than twenty countries, including Iceland, to capture ”the bodies and voices of gay communities all over the world” in all their diversity. Fresh off the plane from Manila, Liam tells us more about his four-years journey and learning experiences, the upcoming edition and his plans for the future of the magazine.

Editor Liam Campbell. Each issue is dedicated to a certain city and the men who live there. The word “elska” means love in Icelandic. Liam decided to use it as the magazine’s title as he is a big fan of Iceland and Icelandic culture.

You launched Elska in September 2015. What does it feel like to be celebrating its fourth year?
“It certainly feels great but also really hard to believe. Originally there was a soft goal to get to twenty or twenty-five issues, but now that this milestone has passed, I don’t feel like stopping at all. Where do I push the milestone forward to though? Fifty sounds good, but judging by how fast time flew up to this point, Elska will reach fifty issues before I know it.”

Did you ever imagine that you would still be going strong four years later?
“In essence, no. I guess I imagined that I’d gain the sort of experience from Elska that would lead me into a career working in commercial photography or maybe for a mainstream magazine. Maybe I’d make ad hoc issues or something to scratch my creative itch, but I thought it would end after a couple of years. I knew that Elska would never make much money; however I learned to value other things more, like artistic freedom and the feedback I’ve had from readers who say how much Elska means to them. I feel I have a responsibility to them. I’ve also learned that I really don’t need or even want much money.”

The Reykjavík issue makes more use of the outdoors than the previous issues. “With such beautiful landscapes in Iceland, it would have been a shame not to involve them, but the focus is still on the boys. Also, this issue gives a more fully rounded portrait of each man: the images are less staged and the stories more personal. It’s a formula that will be followed for future issues,” Liam told GayIceland when the Icelandic issue was published.

How has Elska been received over the years?
“A lot of people just don’t understand what I do. They expect the people in Elska to be more famous, more fit, more young, and their stories to be more sensational or more salacious. They’re ready to judge everyone, put them into boxes, and rank them. ‘Who’s hot, and who’s not?’ This is absolutely not what I want to do or what I want to facilitate. It’s thankfully rare, but I occasionally get messages like, “Why would you put that guy on the cover of a magazine? Surely you could have found some-one better looking in that city.” I can’t fathom why someone would take the effort to write an email to express this sort of thing, but it makes me sad and cynical about humanity. Unfortunately, I’ve not yet learned how to shrug it off.”

Elska 01. Lviv – Semen M-2.

What have you learned from your experiences?
“One of my biggest takeaways from my experience has been the power of visibility. When I originally conceived of Elska I thought of using models because it just seemed the natural thing to do, because prior to Elska I had been doing some work in the fashion industry. However, when I started ‘casting’ I just felt uncomfortable with selecting or rejecting people by their looks so I just decided to welcome everyone. As I expected, we get a higher amount of positive feedback for a nude spread of some ‘traditionally hot’ guy, and that’s OK. But it means more when someone writes in to say, “Seeing different types of bodies in your magazine has made me feel better and more confident about my body.” Some-times I wonder if therefore I should focus on purposefully photographing certain types of bodies, to give even more visibility, but I think this visibility has greater power when different bodies are all together, equalised and not fetishised.”

Elska 16. Cape Town – Sonwabo S-2.

Can you share the most memorable story you’ve heard?
“I definitely have a few that stick out, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a story from Alejandro G in the Guadalajara issue. The story itself was nothing shocking, just another tale of a relationship turning into a long-distance one and trying to cope, but the way he told his story made me think a lot about myself. There was a line when he wrote, “I don’t want to wake up in the mornings anymore […] but I still do it”. I admire this level of honesty immensely. Most people would just say “I really miss him” or “I’m sad”, and although I respect people’s desire to be private, I’m a sucker for the dramatic. Then later he continues, “I take the pills that I have been taking for the last ten years to calm what the doctor calls depression and anxiety disorders, and I just call the consequences of living.” This really grabbed me, I understood so well, and it made me understand my own psychology better.

Ultimately what I really want for Elska is that people feel like they’ve travelled along with us to each city, met these guys in person, and got to know them. In some ways the intimacy and simplicity of the photography achieves that and sometimes it’s more the stories. Or hopefully it’s a combination of the two.”

Elska 15 Bogota. Mario A y Gabriel P-2.

You’ve been to 25 cities to date, in more than 20 countries: how do you pick them?
“There’s generally three factors to choosing a city. The main consideration is geographical diversity. For example, last year we did an issue in South America, followed by one in Africa, then Australia, then North America, then Europe. As for picking the specific cities, it’s often influenced by letters received from readers. For example, the Mumbai issue came about mainly because a bunch of people had written in asking us to go there, and eventually I decided to give in to their requests. Thirdly, cost is a factor. So if there’s a really cheap flight somewhere, or someone’s offering us a free place to stay, it can help swing a decision.”

Elska 21. Seoul – Jamin P-2.

The next edition, out on September 12, takes us to Manila. Can you give us a sneak peek?
“Manila was chosen largely due to reader requests. In fact, apart from NYC and San Francisco (neither of which we’ve featured yet), no other city had so many people write in asking us to visit. I never really thought much about the Philippines though, so I had no natural inclination to go there until enough people demanded it that I became curious. I suppose I imagined a highly Catholic conservative place, but the men I met there turned out to be super easy-going, really friendly, and also a bit overly modest and self-critical. If you get the issues, you’ll see a lot of cheeky smiles, quite a lot of nudity, and a fair amount of stories that will make you bang your head against the wall wondering how some people can be so down on themselves.”

Where can we find the print magazine in Iceland?
“I’m actually not sure of all the shops that sell Elska in Iceland, but I’ve heard reports of people finding them at various Penninn / Eymundsson bookshops across the country. Maybe at Keflavik airport, maybe in Akureyri, maybe at Kringlan and definitely at the Austurstræti locations.”

Elska 24 .Guadalajara – Ivan D-2.

What’s next on your bucket list?
“When I was a flight attendant, before Elska, my favourite ever destination I visited was Buenos Aires, so that’s high on my list, though the flights tend to be very high in cost. I also adore Montréal, but since it’s only a five-hour drive from where I live currently, I keep it in my back pocket in case I ever get ill or something and can’t travel far. I’d also love to return to Ukraine (where we made our first issue) to feature a different Ukrainian city; and maybe also Iceland, but only if someone can guarantee being able to find a dozen willing participants up in Akureyri.”

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.

Locations:

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.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      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 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier 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 a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

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

      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.

      Landsbankinn
      - 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.

      Dohop
      - 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. “

      Macland
      - 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.

      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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        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.

        Núðluskálin
        - 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).

        Seatours
        - 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.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        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.

        600x400-seatours

        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
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -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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