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Remembering last year’s shoot with Austin W, who became the cover boy of our Elska Taipei edition. Seen here with our Taipei assistant Roman Tanitchev, evening out his backpack straps, ‘cos you know he’s meticulous like that.

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(From hundreds to few…with Marc Y from Berlin)

I think it’s quite typical of photographers to shoot much more than they use… but in my career I’ve noticed two types of photographers: Type One shoots very carefully and slowly, keeping most of what they shoot. Type Two shoots a bit faster and freer, keeping only a small amount of what they shoot.

I belong to the second type. It’s not so much that I’m not careful but more that I realise that some of the best shots come from accidents. Also, I’m most practiced in an era of digital photography, where I don’t have to be concerned with the cost of film. I can shoot a thousand images (which is pretty typical) and narrow those down to the eight or so that make it into Elska Magazine.

But does that mean that only eight in a thousand are any good? It’s true that there are a lot of throwaways, but there are other decent ones which maybe just didn’t fit well amongst the others. These outtakes are painful to throw away, which is why for some of the Elska Boys, we make Elska Ekstra e-zines. These are where you can see the rest of the images that didn’t make it to the final issue of Elska, but which we didn’t want to bin either.

For the Berlin issue, there are six Elska Ekstra e-zines to accompany it, including one for Marc Y. These are sold separately or included free as part of an annual deluxe subscription.

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

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(Sorry for the Cher but I don’t really care… with Emil T from Berlin)

One of the songs on the Berlin issue’s mixtape is Cher’s “Take it Like a Man”. This was the track used for Emil T’s shoot at the former site of Templehof Airport. Even before I met Emil, I knew I was using him with this song because whoever I shot at the old airport would be paired with it. Why? Well it’s because of the title of the shoot, a lyric taken from the first verse: “I didn’t learn how to fly without a heavy fall”.

Now I’m no gay clone who only listens to Madonna, Kylie and Cher – not that there’s anything wrong with that. And in fact I like all three of those gay pop icons. But Emil T told me after the issue was published that he can’t stand Cher.

When gay guys tell me that they hate these artists, I instantly assume that it’s a reaction against stereotypes, that he doesn’t appreciate being assumed to like Cher just ‘cos he fancies men. It reminds me of the time that a relative gave me an Elton John CD for Christmas a few months after I came out…

But maybe Emil genuinely doesn’t like Cher. I can accept that… but not this song. It’s just soooooo good.

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

A Post-Apocalyptic Picnic… with Marko K in Elska Magazine Issue (01)

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My first night in Lviv was almost fully sleepless. Perhaps it was the excitement of the upcoming packed day of shooting, or perhaps it was the noisy and too-cold air conditioner, but the next morning required more than the usual dose of coffee. Fortunately there was a café right beneath my block of flats (there are cafés everywhere in Lviv, perhaps on par with London or New York on a per capital basis). I waited there at an outside table until Marko and then my assistant arrived.

Lviv is ridiculously beautiful, like over the top pretty, so it was appropriate that the first shoot wasn’t in the gingerbread house village of an old town, but in a complex of abandoned factories and warehouses just south of the city centre. This was an industrial centre that probably hadn’t turned its cogs since the Soviet flag flew over this place almost thirty years ago.

Both Marko K and my assistant Andriy were concerned about my choice of location, fearing readers of Elska Magazine would get an unfavourable impression of Lviv. I can appreciate their worries, but of course not all of Issue 01’s shoots would be in post-communist wastelands. And besides, what’s more beautiful than crumbled bricks and broken glass as they are overtaken by vines and weeds in a resurgence of nature?

And the light was amazing on this day. It shone through bare holes that used to hold doors and windows. I could have stayed all day. What a place to have a post-apocalyptic picnic. Just bring a picnic basket full of wine, sandwiches, fruits, and syringes for the inevitable tetanus shot required after sitting on a rusty nail.

See more of the Marko K. shoot and more of Lviv in Elska Magazine Issue (01), available in select shops or online at www.elskamagazine.com

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