A London magazine photographer has ventured inside one of the world’s war hotspots to meet and photograph gay men.
The magazine titled Elska, which is described as a pin-up mag with intellect, has a collection of photographs of Ukraine men in the local town of Lviv as well as intimate stories told in their own words about their lives living in the war-torn country.
Some of the images show the men looking like models where others resemble real life, celebrating the beauty of its subjects’ imperfections.
Editor and photographer of Elska Liam Campbell said that Ukraine, and particularly Lviv, was chosen for the first edition of Elska because it is Ukraine’s cultural capital.
“It’s a ridiculously beautiful place, but the best part is that the city doesn’t feel reconstructed or touched-up,” Campbell said.
“The buildings look old because they are old, with a captivating worn-in beauty.
“The people are also beautiful – even the police look as though they’ve stepped off a catwalk – it was hard not to invite everyone to step in front of my camera.”
The creative force behind Elska, Campbell said the models for the shoot were tracked down via a German dating site that was popular within Lviv.
“A couple of guys we met started talking, and they introduced us to more and more friends who were interested in taking part.”
“In the end we found an amazing cross-section of men through personal connections – and this gave the finished issue exactly the authenticity we wanted.”
The stories accompanying the photographs of Lviv’s men add depth and intimacy to the experience, and readers get real insight into the models.
Each subject was asked to write a short, personal piece of text to provide a glimpse into their lives – either in Ukranian (translated for the final issue) or in their practiced English.
The Lviv edition is the first in a planned series of editions for gay men who seek an authentic view of the homosexual experience from around the world.
Each issue will be shot in a different city with local boys and local stories, celebrating the beauty of its subjects’ imperfections.
The bi-monthly magazine is on stands in Australia and they can also be purchased online.
Campbell concludes, “I’m so excited for the Elska project and look forward to the year ahead, full of new cities and new guys.”
“The next issue is Berlin. I was there shooting last week and the issue will be out 1st November.”
There are no plans to visit New Zealand or Australia in the near future but check out the website at www.elskamagazine.com and let Liam know if you wish to be involved.