LA-based fitness and fine arts photographer Michael Stokes is used to working with athletic, attractive male models, many of whom are ex-military.
Last year, he was inspired to make wounded combat veterans — including amputees — the subject of his sexy pin-up style shots.
It all started with Alex Minsky, a retired marine corporal who lost his leg to a roadside bomb during his tour in Afghanistan in 2009.
Minksy spent 58 days in a coma after the injury that left him without his right leg. He now has a successful modeling career.
“Before our shoot, I studied as many amputee photos that I could find. I noticed that most of them emphasized the lost limb and that the mood was often sorrowful,” Stokes wrote.
“That was not the vibe I was getting from [Minsky], so I decided to simply photograph him as if he was not an amputee, photograph him exactly the same way I would any of the models I had worked with,” Stokes continued.
From there, the photos seemed to take on a life of their own. Stokes’ shoot with Minsky went viral, and soon, dozens of other wounded veterans expressed an interest in doing their own shoots.
Stokes published a large format book featuring military veterans last year after a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. He hopes to double that this year, putting out two new titles, “Exhibition,” and “Always Loyal.”
Stokes previously worked with only male ex-military models, but for his latest project he has included female veterans.
A portion of the proceeds of the book sales generated through Stokes’ current Kickstarter campaign will be donated to an organization supporting wounded US vets.
His last Kickstarter surpassed its goal of over $48,000 (£30,700) in just over an hour.
“Some people will say to me ‘Oh, this is really helpful to their self-esteem,’ or, ‘You’re making them feel like men again,’” Stokes said. “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.”
To purchase the new books and help Stokes meet his book publishing and donation goals, visit his Kickstarter page.
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