War veteran amputees captured in powerful shots by photographer Michael Stokes after Kickstarter campaign

Fundraising efforts collected more than $400,000

Victoria Richards
Friday 13 November 2015 13:10 GMT

A photographer who took a series of poignant shots of male and female war veterans who have lost limbs in service has seen his efforts turned into a hardcover book.

Michael Stokes, who is based in Los Angeles, originally set out to raise $48,250 to fund 'Always Loyal' – his third 'coffee table' collection.

But thanks to monumental support from the public via a Kickstarter campaign, he managed to raise $411,134 instead, and the book will now be released on November 15.

Mr Stokes, 52, has pledged to donate $20,000 of the money raised to the Semper FI Fund, a charity that supports wounded soldiers.

He has released two previous books, but this is the latest in his series of images of men and women posing "confidently" and with an "erotic edge".

Mr Stokes spoke to The Independent in September, after he was engaged in a battle with Facebook over their decision to remove two of his images from the site.

Mary Dague is a US Army veteran who lost both arms in an IED explosion in Iraq and then survived breast cancer

One of the images that fell into their category of “things that aren't allowed” and that was blocked for 30 days was a photograph entitled 'Mary, The Venus' – featuring a topless female US Army veteran who had both arms amputated.

Mary Dague lost both her arms and suffered horrific injuries in an IED explosion in Iraq. She then went through further surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The image appears in the new book.

“Not only is she a breast cancer survivor but she was a war hero,” Mr Stokes, who removed the image as a precaution, said at the time.

“When people started sharing the photo in July, they started to get banned.

“I thought that was really weird because if they could easily find the origin on my page, why weren't they removing it?”

Mr Stokes told the Mail Online the inspiration for the series began three years ago, when he photographed former US Marine Alex Minsky, 26.

Mr Minsky, who won the Purple Heart, lost part of his leg and suffred a broken jaw and brain injury in Afghanistan, when his truck ran over a roadside bomb.

He agreed to pose for Michael, showing off his muscles and tattoos.

"I wanted to approach it carefully," Mr Stokes told the newspaper. "I was a fitness photographer who had an erotic edge to his images, and I wanted to shoot Alex the same way."

He added: "He was strong, he was solid. So I thought, I'm gonna basically shoot him as if he's not an amputee."

He also said he believes people respond positively to the photos because they focus primarily on the person's attractiveness and sense of confidence.

"I think they don't notice the amputation right away," he said.

He added: "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."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in