Daniel B, pictured in Toronto Canada.

Capturing the faces, bodies and voices of queer men

Launched in 2015, Elska Magazine is still going strong. For five years now, each issue of this ‘sexy anthropology journal’ takes us to a different city in the world and captures the faces, bodies and voices of local queer men in all their glorious diversity. By now Liam Campbell, the father of Elska, has traveled to many countries and met many queer men from many different backgrounds. GayIceland asked him all about it.
Liam Campbell, editor of Elska Magazine.

You launched Elska in September 2015. How does it feel like to be celebrating its fifth anniversary?
“Most of all it just feels unbelievable that it’s been five years already. It makes me feel grateful, and also more confident that another five years will be possible too.”

How did it all started?
“Although I did photography at college, it wasn’t until I took a job as cabin crew in 2014 that I really started getting into photography properly. My airline would send us to places I never imagined travelling to, like Kuwait, Kenya, Korea, and I just had to document everything with my camera. I started out doing street photography, but I quickly noticed that I perhaps inadvertently kept capturing hot locals guys, which made me start actually trying to recruit models. I’d be in Japan, for example, and would go on one of the gay apps and just ask if anyone fancied doing a photoshoot. In time I started building a pretty strong portfolio, which got me some commercial photography jobs, and that gave me confidence to do my own thing. That became Elska, a project where I could combine travelling and shooting boys all over the world.”

“…he started teasing me in that typical Australian way of bantering, insisting that it’s ridiculous and unfair of me to be fully clothed while photographing him naked, so he insisted that I get naked too.”

What kept you going?
“Well, this is a hard business, but I believe anyone who is able to at least not lose money by being a full-time artist is lucky. Recently I photographed a guy, who will be in our next issue, and he was wearing a t-shirt that read, ‘You can make a living from art, stop telling kids that you can’t’. I love that! Of course, it’s not a fancy sort of living, but I don’t need that much money. I’m more nourished by all the people who tell me that my work means something to them, that it makes them feel more positive, more seen, more confident.”

How do you pick the cities?
“In general my policy is to let the readers guide where to go. People often write in to say, “If you ever come to my city, I’d love to take part”, and once enough people write in from the same place, I go. That’s how we ended up doing issues in India and the Philippines, for example. But also, I try to make sure the roster of countries we include is diverse, so sometimes I’ll go somewhere like Bangladesh or Colombia, because there are gaps on the globe that I don’t want to ignore. By the way, if you want to request a city, we have a form set up here

How exactly do you find your models? Is it always an easy task?
“In the beginning we just used apps like Grindr, messaged everyone on the screen with our proposition, and photographed whoever responded. I like the spontaneity of that, but it can also be really unpleasant since a lot of people on there aren’t really looking to engage in anything but sex, and their rejections can be rather bitter. After the first year or so, it got easier. Nowadays we can announce a new city on social media, and sometimes we get enough responses from that to fill the schedule immediately. And if not, we go back to the apps.

Some cities are definitely easier than others, and it’s interesting because the size of the city doesn’t matter. I think the most populous cities I’ve done so far were London and Seoul, and neither of those were very easy. In general I found Northern and Eastern Europe the hardest, and Latin America the easiest. So if you want to extrapolate that Latinx people are the least reserved, I think that would be fair.”

Daniel D, Los Angeles. Photo / Elska

What’s your most memorable experience if you can spot one, either bad or wholesome?
“Oh, it’s so hard to choose, so I’ll go with a recent one. I was in Sydney, and one of the guys wanted to do a beach shoot because it seemed like a very Aussie sort of setting. It turned out that the beach he asked me to meet him at, Obelisk Beach, was a nude one. That’s fine with me, but then he started teasing me in that typical Australian way of bantering, insisting that it’s ridiculous and unfair of me to be fully clothed while photographing him naked, so he insisted that I get naked too. Definitely not an average photoshoot, but one of the most fun for sure. When it was over I put my camera on a rock and we both went for a swim. I really didn’t want to leave.”

Sonwabo S, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo / Elska

Do you feel like your work has evolved throughout the years? How?
“Yes, for sure. In some ways it’s changed in terms of quality. When I started I knew nothing of graphic design, of editing, of running a business at all, and all of these skills improved over time. Looking at the first issues is almost embarrassing for me now, though I prefer to think of them as charming! My photography has changed too. Partly it’s also better in quality, because of experience, but more so its intention is more clear. In the beginning I had too many ideas of what a photospread should look like, based on what I learned in school or saw in other magazines. Over time my attitude changed, which is now about being honest. I try to let nothing deter me – if a setting cramped or badly lit, it doesn’t matter because it’s more important to me to faithfully represent that moment between me and the model than to make something that is technically beautiful.”

Inder N and S Arif, Mumbai, India. Photo / Elska

You’ve traveled to many countries and met many gay men from many different backgrounds these past years. Despite all the socioeconomic and cultural gaps, have you spotted any recurring theme or pattern in the stories your models shared with you?
“Certain themes come up again and again, like coming out stories, love stories, and sex stories. What’s really interesting is that they come up no matter where you are, but the way they’re told differs slightly. Coming out stories aren’t just the stuff of ‘conservative’ countries, proving that all queer people know what it feels like to be an outcast, to be different. Love too is universal, but in the way that I said that Northern Europe seems a bit reserved, the love stories we’ve had from our Helsinki, Reykjavík and Stockholm issues tended to be more coy; whereas some from our Los Angeles, Guadalajara, and Pittsburgh issues were absolutely filthy!”

Heiko M, Berlin, Germany. Photo / Elska

Have you noticed a difference in the way gay men all around the world talk about – and perceive themselves in the span of five years?
“I would have thought that five years isn’t enough to really perceive change, but there are a couple specific areas where I think there are some differences. One would be race – there are more people who both notice racism and who are willing to address it. Another would be body positivity, with more and more people admitting how damaging beauty standards and Insta culture can be. I talk to a lot of people who feel un- or under-represented in media, be it because of their race or their body type and age. When I started this five years ago, the vast majority of people who would come forward to take part in Elska were young, white, fit, and probably very well-endowed too, because that’s what they expected I would want. My work has become more diverse over time, and it’s not because I’m specifically trying to find more diversity but rather that different types of people are feeling confident to put themselves out there. I couldn’t be more happy about that, and more hopeful about the world.”

Last time we interviewed you back in June, you had just released Fifteen Icelandic Swimming Pools. What have you been up to since then?
“Since then I’ve released two new issues, both shot pre-Covid in January – Elska Sydney and Elska Kuala Lumpur. I also shot an issue this summer in my home country, the UK, which will be out in December. It’s going to be a very interesting and surprisingly exciting issue, which is very fortunate since I only chose to shoot in the UK because Covid made it too difficult to travel to any other countries.”

“… the love stories we’ve had from our Helsinki, Reykjavík and Stockholm issues tended to be more coy; whereas some from our Los Angeles, Guadalajara, and Pittsburgh issues were absolutely filthy!”

How did Covid impact your work?
“In 2020 I have actually lost four cities, all places I had flights to but which got cancelled due to the virus crisis. They were São Paulo (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Beirut (Lebanon) and Milan (Italy). One of them I have rescheduled, but the others I can’t say if I’ll ever return to make Elska issues there. I hope so though.”

Nikolas L and Pieterjan V, Brussels, Belgium. Photo / Elska

What’s next on your bucket list? Why?
“I really don’t know, Covid has disabled my ability to even dream about future travel. I really want to get back to Africa one day though, but it’s a difficult continent for gay life all over. I wouldn’t want to endanger the lives of any men who would choose to be published in Elska, by being publicly outed, even in a small publication like this. Yes, I could more safely do another city in South Africa (I did a Cape Town issue in 2018), but I’d really love to feature another country, Senegal or Ghana perhaps. Honestly, if anyone is out there in Africa reading this and feels confident that Elska could work, get in touch.”

Where can we find the print magazine in Iceland?
“Various branches of Penninn / Eymundsson sell Elska in Iceland, but it’s probably best to call ahead and check what’s available as each branch only gets a small amount of each issue.”

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

Á. Óskarsson offers a variety of products and services to sports centers, swimming pools, schools, kindergartens, and the general public. The company specializes in sport-related products, activity-focused games, and a wide range of solutions for sports facilities.

Á. Óskarsson has been involved in numerous big projects related to building sports facilities and has made it their benchmark to offer good quality products and equipment since the company was founded.

See links to social media in the upper left-hand corner


Á. Óskarsson selur fjölbreytt vöruúrval fyrir íþróttahús, sundlaugar, skóla og leikskóla og einnig ýmsar vörur til einkaafnota. Fyrirtækið selur vörur til íþróttaiðkunnar og leikja ásamt því að bjóða upp á ýmsar lausnir fyrir íþróttamannvirki.

Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

Tenglar á samfélagsmiðla eru í efra horninu vinstra megin.



    Blush was founded in 2011 when it started selling high quality sex products. The goal from the beginning was to change the market and take the discussion about sex products to a higher level. Today Blush provides professional services in a pleasant environment that fulfills different needs, both for individuals and couples. Blush respects diversity and wants to set a good example in all of its messaging to target audiences. Sexual health and equality in sex is important and Blush wants to focus on those issues through education and open discussion. Blush works in a socially responsible manner for society, their customers and the environment.

    Check out Blush’s website: https://blush.is/

    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.




        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.

        - 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.

        - 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.

          Contact Us

          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.