From Domodedovo to Reykjavík… with a shopkeeper in Baku for Elska Magazine

On this day last year I was working as a flight attendant and spent New Year´s Eve working the Economy Class section on a flight from Moscow Domodedovo to London Heathrow.

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The crew at my airline hate doing Moscow flights. They complain that the passengers are rude, demanding and just plain unpleasant. Perhaps it’s because I speak Russian and understand the Russian character a bit better (I studied Russian at uni), but I found the passengers absolutely charming and a pleasure to serve. So much did I enjoy the flight that I did an impromptu PA to the entire plane in Russian upon landing that ended with a “поздравляю с новым годом” [happy new year]. To my total embarrassment, the plane erupted in applause.

After the passengers deboarded, not knowing if the applause was heard in First Class as well, I mentioned the applause to my manager who’d been working up front. He replied that he did hear it and was going to make a commendation about me, but because I had the shamelessness to bring it up, he would not do so. This sort of belittlement happened every day and it is why, even though the passengers were always lovely, I absolutely despised the job.

The new year is often a time for looking back. Certainly I had no idea then that I’d be going Elska, no clue that one year from Moscow I’d be about to release the third issue of Elska, this one set in Reykjavík.  As much as I hated working for that company, I can’t imagine that I’d have ended up doing Elska without the opportunities that job gave me to travel and photograph on our many layovers. Last January I had trips to Seoul, Los Angeles, Rio, Kuwait City, and Baku (where this image is from). I’d love to return to all for an Elska issue. Perhaps 2016 will see it.

For more about Elska, visit www.elskamagazine.com

 

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(It’s Only Just the Beginning… with Raphael K from Berlin)

As we approach the end of 2015, it feels like I’ve been doing Elska for ages, but it’s only been a few months. Issue (01) Lviv dropped in September, followed by Issue (02) Berlin in November. Next week the third Elska edition will see the light when Issue (03) Reykjavík hits the shelves.

It’s a stressful thing quitting your job to start a new niche bookazine concept, particularly with little money in the bank and no external investment… but I love making Elska more than anything I’ve ever done. Whether it’s planning the next destination, meeting the boys, taking photographs, or even writing press releases, I truly enjoy all of it. But the business side is frightening to say the least and as much as I try my hand at marketing, PR, and sales, a lot of it is down to luck and hope.

Nevertheless I push on because of how much I love Elska. And I’m committed to continuing it not least because I have annual subscribers that I can’t let down. What’s more, I have flights booked for the next three issues already (I’m not telling you where they’ll be yet!). Certainly Issue (02) sold more than (01) and I have to hope that will continue for (03). I’m sure it will. It’s only just the beginning!

To find out more about Elska Magazine, to buy an issue or subscribe, see www.elskamagazine.com

It’s Only Just the Beginning… with Raphael K for Elska Magazine

As we approach the end of 2015, it feels like I’ve been doing Elska for ages, but it’s only been a few months. Issue (01) Lviv dropped in September, followed by Issue (02) Berlin in November. Next week the third Elska edition will see the light when Issue (03) Reykjavík hits the shelves.

ElskaMagazine_Berlin_RaphaelKblog-1.jpg

It’s a stressful thing quitting your job to start a new niche bookazine concept, particularly with little money in the bank and no external investment… but I love making Elska more than anything I’ve ever done. Whether it’s planning the next destination, meeting the boys, taking photographs, or even writing press releases, I truly enjoy all of it. But the business side is frightening to say the least and as much as I try my hand at marketing, PR, and sales, a lot of it is down to luck and hope.

ElskaMagazine_Berlin_RaphaelKblog-1-2.jpg

Nevertheless I push on because of how much I love Elska. And I’m committed to continuing it not least because I have annual subscribers that I can’t let down. What’s more, I have flights booked for the next three issues already (I’m not telling you where they’ll be yet!). Certainly Issue (02) sold more than (01) and I have to hope that will continue for (03). I’m sure it will. It’s only just the beginning!

To find out more about Elska Magazine, to buy an issue or subscribe, see www.elskamagazine.com

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(Kiss it better… with Marc Y from Berlin)

When I first looked at the photos from the Marc Y session for our Berlin issue, I felt a sense of loneliness. I also felt an urge to go into the page and give the boy a hug, or at least wrap a warm blanket around him. I’m not sure if my instinct to console is normal or common, but if I try to analyse my history of attraction, I tend to be drawn to those who I deem to be in need. I suppose I get off on being wanted. I also enjoy being lusted after (which makes me feel at ease) more than lusting (which makes me neurotic). And I actually prefer a clingy moves-too-fast guy than one who plays hard-to-get.

I’m sure this is quite a terrible thing to admit, but when I was at uni there was this deaf boy I was mad for. He worked at the HMV on High Street Birmingham and I would go in there pretending to browse with the hopes of seeing him. But whenever we met we had little to talk about. Sure, he was cute but he was also quite dim and we had nothing in common.

Someone suggested that my attraction to him was because he was looks-wise out of my league, but his deafness lowered him from a 9 to a 6 and thus made him attainable for me. A dreadful concept, and I’m thankfully sure it’s not true (at that time our looks rankings would have been roughly similar). Incidentally I also find boys with glasses and hearing aids super hot. Nerd fetish I propose rather than some ‘disability’ fetish.

I’m also drawn to people who are a bit sombre, pouty, relaxed; boisterousness is a big turn-off. A gregarious life-of-the-party type is my nightmare. As I write this I realise that I’m the very sort of person that I’m drawn to. I’m quiet, thoughtful and smile only when it’s sincere. And I’m also someone who could do with a hug, a warm blanket, and someone to kiss it better.

To see the rest of Marc Y’s pics, check out Elska Magazine Issue (02) Berlin and also Marc’s dedicated Elska Ekstra e-zine, both available via www.elskamagazine.com

Kiss it better… with Marc Y for Elska Magazine

When I first looked at the photos from the Marc Y session for our Berlin issue, I felt a sense of loneliness. I also felt an urge to go into the page and give the boy a hug, or at least wrap a warm blanket around him. I’m not sure if my instinct to console is normal or common, but if I try to analyse my history of attraction, I tend to be drawn to those who I deem to be in need. I suppose I get off on being wanted. I also enjoy being lusted after (which makes me feel at ease) more than lusting (which makes me neurotic). And I actually prefer a clingy moves-too-fast guy than one who plays hard-to-get.

ElskaMagazine_Berlin_MarcYblog-1.jpg

I’m sure this is quite a terrible thing to admit, but when I was at uni there was this deaf boy I was mad for. He worked at the HMV on High Street Birmingham and I would go in there pretending to browse with the hopes of seeing him. But whenever we met we had little to talk about. Sure, he was cute but he was also quite dim and we had nothing in common.

Someone suggested that my attraction to him was because he was looks-wise out of my league, but his deafness lowered him from a 9 to a 6 and thus made him attainable for me. A dreadful concept, and I’m thankfully sure it’s not true (at that time our looks rankings would have been roughly similar). Incidentally I also find boys with glasses and hearing aids super hot. Nerd fetish I propose rather than some ‘disability’ fetish.

I’m also drawn to people who are a bit sombre, pouty, relaxed; boisterousness is a big turn-off. A gregarious life-of-the-party type is my nightmare. As I write this I realise that I’m the very sort of person that I’m drawn to. I’m quiet, thoughtful and smile only when it’s sincere. And I’m also someone who could do with a hug, a warm blanket, and someone to kiss it better.

To see the rest of Marc Y’s pics, check out Elska Magazine Issue (02) Berlin and also Marc’s dedicated Elska Ekstra e-zine, both available via www.elskamagazine.com

 

We Need To Talk About Colin… with Colin C for Elska Magazine

Colin C was the last guy we shot in Berlin for Elska Issue (02). In fact we didn’t know we’d be shooting him at all until the last minute. Rica Shay, who I’d photographed and interviewed for Elska Issue (01), had just gotten back from a trip to Berlin. When I told him that Berlin would be the setting for the next issue, Colin was at the top of his list of who I must meet. So, Rica put us in touch.

I didn’t hear from Colin until the second-to-last day, so there was no time to really plan a location or anything. I just told Colin to get a bunch of clothes together, whatever he fancied, whatever represented his personal style, and meet us outside our flat in Prenzlauer Berg at 4pm.

When he arrived and unzipped his bag, there was menswear and womenswear, a kit from the gay rugby kit he leads (the Berlin Bruisers), some lederhosen (yes we know this isn’t Berlin-accurate culturally), and this long-sleeve kiss-covered half-shirt from H&M.

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While we often say that Elska shoots ‘regular guys’, it’s hard to say that Colin is very ‘regular’. What we mean is that we don’t hire professional models, but neither do we specifically look to shoot guys who look ‘normal’. Whatever your style, you’ve got to admire someone with the balls to walk around with a glittering rainbow unicorn adorned backpack (buy the issue to see him wearing the backpack and nothing else).

Colin is the poster-boy for pride. Having him sashaying around like he doesn’t give a fuck makes me not give a fuck. It makes me feel OK as I am. Elska isn’t here to shoot one type of guy, but any and all types. And when someone sends us hate saying that the guy with the small patch of hair on his upper back on page 94 of Issue (01) “is disgusting and makes me want to vomit”, it only makes me find that guy more beautiful. Or when someone comments that the guy on page 27 of Issue (02) is “too skinny and not even handsome”, I want to hug him not out of pity but out of pure desire. And it makes me feel prouder that I’m no supermodel either ‘cos we are all beautiful as we are.

Happy holidays to you all and I wish you lots of love!

Liam

 

For more about Elska, see www.elskamagazine.com

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(We Need To Talk About Colin… with Colin C from Berlin)

Colin C was the last guy we shot in Berlin for Elska Issue (02). In fact we didn’t know we’d be shooting him at all until the last minute. Rica Shay, who I’d photographed and interviewed for Elska Issue (01), had just gotten back from a trip to Berlin. When I told him that Berlin would be the setting for the next issue, Colin was at the top of his list of who I must meet. So, Rica put us in touch.

I didn’t hear from Colin until the second-to-last day, so there was no time to really plan a location or anything. I just told Colin to get a bunch of clothes together, whatever he fancied, whatever represented his personal style, and meet us outside our flat in Prenzlauer Berg at 4pm.

When he arrived and unzipped his bag, there was menswear and womenswear, a kit from the gay rugby kit he leads (the Berlin Bruisers), some lederhosen (yes we know this isn’t Berlin-accurate culturally), and this long-sleeve kiss-covered half-shirt from H&M.

While we often say that Elska shoots ‘regular guys’, it’s hard to say that Colin is very ‘regular’. What we mean is that we don’t hire professional models, but neither do we specifically look to shoot guys who look ‘normal’. Whatever your style, you’ve got to admire someone with the balls to walk around with a glittering rainbow unicorn adorned backpack (buy the issue to see him wearing the backpack and nothing else).

Colin is the poster-boy for pride. Having him sashaying around like he doesn’t give a fuck makes me not give a fuck. It makes me feel OK as I am. Elska isn’t here to shoot one type of guy, but any and all types. And when someone sends us hate saying that the guy with the small patch of hair on his upper back on page 94 of Issue (01) “is disgusting and makes me want to vomit”, it only makes me find that guy more beautiful. Or when someone comments that the guy on page 27 of Issue (02) is “too skinny and not even handsome”, I want to hug him not out of pity but out of pure desire. And it makes me feel prouder that I’m no supermodel either ‘cos we are all beautiful as we are.

Happy holidays to you all and I wish you lots of love!

Liam

For more about Elska, see www.elskamagazine.com