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How a Photographer Is Helping Veteran Amputees One Photo At A Time

posted: 07/23/15
by: TLCme

Michael Stokes wanted to do something special for wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. So he took his skill set -- shooting sexy boudoir photos -- and decided to try and give some of the men and women returning from war zones a little bit of their humanity back. Stokes set out to shoot a group of veterans in naked and nearly naked poses.

His aim? Make them feel comfortable, self-confident, and self-assured in their new bodies.

The project began in 2012 when Stokes photographed Alex Minsky, a 26-year-old Marine who'd lost part of his leg in Afghanistan. "I wanted to approach it carefully," Stokes told Daily Mail Online."I didn't want him to be in the position where he could be embarrassed." Stokes set about photographing him, "as if he's not an amputee."

His photos of Minksy garnered some attention, and suddenly Stokes' project of shooting returning veterans took off. "'Some people will say to me 'Oh, this is really helpful to their self-esteem,' or, 'You're making them feel like men again,'" but Stokes says the reality is much different. "These guys have come to me very healed and ready to take the world on. I'm not giving them back their confidence. They already have it."

He's launched, and already funded, a Kickstarter to publish a book of these photos.

For the vets featured in Stokes' photos, the response has been overwhelming. But Stokes feels the work he's doing is a vital part of making these men visible and important in a society that might otherwise not acknowledge them. "You see veterans either in a coffin or coming back able-bodies," Stokes said. "These kinds of intimate photos show an aspect of vet life that people have not been exposed to. It's a visible reminder of the price that the country has paid."