Amputee veterans bare all in empowering photos
A new book shines a light on the effects of war in a body-positive way. Photographer Michael Stokes is raising money for a new coffee table book titled "Always Loyal," highlighting wounded U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine veterans.
The book features 14 veterans of the Gulf War, Iraq War, and War in Afghanistan, most of whom lost a limb in IED attacks. "Always Loyal" highlights -- rather than hides -- the heroic veterans' scars in nude portraits.
The photographer reported to PEOPLE that he wanted to focus on the veterans' allure, and avoid the mournful tone that often characterizes photos of wounded veterans. Instead, he portrays them in an empowering way, showing off their physical strength and confidence.
According to an MTV interview, people have applauded Stokes for his art, saying he is helping the veterans' self-esteem, or "making them feel like men again." But the photographer insists, "I'm not giving them back their confidence. They already have it."
The response hasn't been entirely positive. One image in particular, entitled "Taylor with ropes," has sparked some controversy across the Internet. A veteran is pictured dangling from two ropes with arms spread wide, and the image appears to be a recreation of a crucifixion.
Despite the controversy, people are generally enthusiastic about Stokes' project. "Always Loyal" already has a well-funded Kickstarter campaign that has raised over six times its original goal. Plus, the photographer announced that a portion of his proceeds will go to a charity that helps wounded veterans.
See the stunning previews Stokes shared on his Instagram:
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