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(We didn’t choose bearded guys on purpose… with Raphael K from Berlin)

If you ever wanted to know how we choose our “Elska Boys”, here’s how:

  1. We go on gay dating sites and other social media and start messaging loads of people. There is no age, race, size, or style criteria – the only criteria is that they live in the city where we shoot. Even a strong connection to that city is sometimes OK.
  2. We wait for the responses. If we don’t get enough, we send out more messages. So far it’s never happened that we’ve had to turn people away.

That’s it really. We secretly hope that our issue will be diverse and will represent the city’s true demographics well, but we’re not making a Bennetton ad! With the current issue, shot in Berlin, I really wanted some Turkish guys to help represent the large ethnic Turkish population there, but we didn’t get any positive responses from them. I thought of hiring a Turkish model, but I’d rather let the process be organic than contrived.

The Berlin issue does, however, have a lot of guys with beards. This is actually very accurate if you walk around the city. That hipster emblem is as alive here as in Williamsburg or Portland, but we certainly didn’t choose to shoot bearded guys on purpose. It just so happened that a lot of guys who responded had beards. For the previous issue in Lviv, Ukraine, none of the guys had facial hair. It’s just not really in style there like it is in Berlin.

These cultural differences are some of what I love most about Elska. We seek to be honest in our representations of a city, but we really don’t try that hard to be 100% accurate.

See more of Raphael and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (02) Berlin

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