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Amputee war veterans pose naked and proudly reveal their injuries in powerful picture series {VIDEO + PICS}

Take a picture: Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Stokes photographs wounded veterans like BT Urruela (pictured) for his photo series

  • Michael Stokes, 52, takes pictures of veterans who have lost limbs, with and without their prosthetics
  • The men and women pose confidently in various states of undress
  • The newest photos will appear in a coffee table book called Always Loyal, and there is currently a wall calendar Bare Strength for sale 

Some wounded war veterans, above all else, just want to feel normal again.

And when photographer Michael Stokes, 52, gets down to business, they do. That's because Michael doesn't shoot traditional solemn photos, posing amputee soldiers looking grave in their uniforms and prosthetics.

Instead, the Los Angeles, California, resident spotlights these men and women in all their naked and nearly-naked glory with sexy, confident shoots that certainly say: 'I've still got it.'

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Take a picture: Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Stokes photographs wounded veterans like BT Urruela (pictured) for his photo series

Take a picture: Los Angeles-based photographer Michael Stokes photographs wounded veterans like BT Urruela (pictured) for his photo series

In camo: BT (pictured before his injury), like all the vets Michael photographed, fought in the Middle East with the US military

In camo: BT (pictured before his injury), like all the vets Michael photographed, fought in the Middle East with the US military

Brave guys: Michael said that he talked to vets like Redmond Ramos (pictured) first, to make them comfortable
Tough guy: Redmond (pictured before his injury) was one of many veterans who were happy to let Michael publish images of them

Brave guys: Michael said that he talked to vets like Redmond Ramos (pictured) first, to make them comfortable

Spotight: The 52-year-old photographer said that he doesn't restore confidence for the veterans he shoots (like Sgt Bryan Anderson, pictured after his inury) - they come to him already confident
Spotight: The 52-year-old photographer said that he doesn't restore confidence for the veterans he shoots (like Sgt Bryan Anderson, pictured after his inury) - they come to him already confident

Spotight: The 52-year-old photographer said that he doesn't restore confidence for the veterans he shoots (like this Sgt Bryan Anderson, pictured before and after his inury) - they come to him already confident

Michael started the project unintentionally in 2012 when he photographed 26-year-old U.S. Marine Alex Minsky, a Purple Heart recipient who lost part of his leg when his truck ran over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Alex had sustained multiple injuries in the incident - including a broken jaw and traumatic brain injury - and suffered from depression and alcoholism when he came home. But after pulling himself out of those dark times, he started bulking up again at the gym - and eventually earned the attention of Michael, who asked to photograph him.

Instead of looking grim or sad in a wheelchair, Alex posed confidently for Michael, showing off his bulging muscles and colorful tattoos in shirtless photos. 

'I wanted to approach it carefully,' Michael told Daily Mail Online. 'I was a fitness photographer who had an erotic edge to his images, and I wanted to shoot Alex the same way. But I didn't want him to be in the position where he could be embarrassed.

'But he was strong, he was solid,' Michael continued. 'So I thought, I'm gonna basically shoot him as if he's not an amputee.'

 

'If it wasn't for Daily Mail, it would have been another year [before the project progressed],' he explained. 'Within a few hours of the piece being posted, I got calls from Good Morning America, the Today show. Big media. And all of a sudden they all wanted him.'  

Serving their country: The US veterans have all lost limbs - sometimes more than one - in the wars in the Middle East 

Serving their country: The US veterans have all lost limbs - sometimes more than one - in the wars in the Middle East 

Military men: Subjects of the photo series previously served in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines
Military men: Subjects of the photo series previously served in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines

Military men: Subjects of the photo series previously served in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines

Fighting props: Some of the subjects pose with guns, and a few wear their dog tags around their necks

Fighting props: Some of the subjects pose with guns, and a few wear their dog tags around their necks

Gaining clientele: After shots of Michael's first subject, Alex, went viral, other veterans approached him to participate in similar shoots

Gaining clientele: After shots of Michael's first subject, Alex, went viral, other veterans approached him to participate in similar shoots

Putting it all out there: None of the pictures are somber - instead, the veteran look sexy, strong, and confident

Putting it all out there: None of the pictures are somber - instead, the veteran look sexy, strong, and confident

Now, when Michael contacts members of the veteran community with a request to shoot them, 'chances are that veteran already knows me'.

He then meets with them beforehand, getting to know them and giving them an opportunity to get comfortable before getting in front of the camera: 'Usually I spend quite a bit of time with them first, so I've never really sensed a lot of nervousness.'

The vets pose for Michael with and without their prosthetic arms and legs, sometimes holding guns or wearing their dog tags. A few shed all of their clothes, while others left more to the imagination. But what they all have in common is that they look strong, self-assured - and hot.

'Some people will say to me "Oh, this is really helpful to their self-esteem," or, "You’re making them feel like men again,"' he told MTV News. '[But] 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.'

Michael said that while most of the men he shoots are excited to see the pictures, there are occasionally some who are reluctant to publish them.

'I had one vet who was very severely injured and he had to take some time to sit on them before publishing them. He said he just wasn't used to seeing himself like that,' he told Daily Mail Online. But after two weeks, the vet gave Michael the OK - and was glad that he did. 

'He was shocked by the response - people telling him how sexy he was, how beautiful he was, that he's a hero. He was genuinely shocked and surprised,' he said. 

Beginnings: Michael started the photo series with 26-year-old U.S. Marine Alex Minsky (pictured), a Purple Heart recipient

Beginnings: Michael started the photo series with 26-year-old U.S. Marine Alex Minsky (pictured), a Purple Heart recipient

They've got personality: Redmond (pictured) dressed up his prosthetic leg with an American flag pattern - and showed it off in several of the photographs
They've got personality: Redmond (pictured) dressed up his prosthetic leg with an American flag pattern - and showed it off in several of the photographs

They've got personality: Redmond (pictured) dressed up his prosthetic leg with an American flag pattern - and showed it off in several of the photographs 

Some of the veterans that Michael shot posed in with props and complicated backgrounds, while others (like the one pictured), stood or sat in front of simple sets

Some of the veterans that Michael shot posed in with props and complicated backgrounds, while others (like the one pictured), stood or sat in front of simple sets

Popular idea: Michael launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish his latest collection of photos and met his goal in two days

Popular idea: Michael launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish his latest collection of photos and met his goal in two days

Michael has now published a photography book featuring some of the stunning images called Bare Strength, which is available on Amazon. There is also a 2016 wall calendar including the images from Bare Strength.

A Kickstarter campaign for a third coffee table book, Always Loyal, reached its $48,250 funding goal in just two days, and has now raised over $202,000.While his first two books focused on male veterans, Always Loyal will also showcase women who've served their country.

Michael said that he believes that the reason people have responded so positively to the photos is because they focus less on the lost limbs and more on the person's attractiveness.

'I think people notice that they are looking at a beautiful man or woman first, and then they notice that they are amputees,' he said. 'I think they don't notice the amputation right away.'

Of course, as nice as they are to look at, these pictures also go deeper than the average sexy calendar shots.

'You see veterans either in a coffin or coming back able-bodies,' Michael 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.'

 

Taking it off: Michael photographs the veterans with and without their prosthetic limbs - and with and without clothing 

Taking it off: Michael photographs the veterans with and without their prosthetic limbs - and with and without clothing 

Calendar models: Bare Strength is also available as a calendar for the 2016 year and can be purchased on Amazon

Calendar models: Bare Strength is also available as a calendar for the 2016 year and can be purchased on Amazon

Community man: Michael said that when he contacts wounded vets like Mary Dague (pictured), they often already know who he is - thanks in part to the Daily Mail Online article that helped his project get attention in 2013
Community man: Michael said that when he contacts wounded vets like Mary Dague (pictured), they often already know who he is - thanks in part to the Daily Mail Online article that helped his project get attention in 2013

Community man: Michael said that when he contacts wounded vets like Mary Dague (pictured), they often already know who he is - thanks in part to the Daily Mail Online article that helped his project get attention in 2013

 Publishing the pics: Michael's upcoming coffee table book, Always Loyal, will feature women as well as men

 Publishing the pics: Michael's upcoming coffee table book, Always Loyal, will feature women as well as men

 

 

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Comment by xiaojun on June 18, 2019 at 6:05am
Comment by lmx on November 13, 2015 at 8:53pm

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Comment by conscious1 on July 21, 2015 at 1:09pm

WAR is WAR.  I fail to see the point of glamorizing or celebrating war.   At the end of the day these men are without limbs for reasons they did not cause.  At the end of the day they would look much better, feel much better and can do much more for themselves with their own limbs.

Comment by Jessy on July 21, 2015 at 10:40am

These guys are hot hot hot hot hot and sexy as hell!  But I would not go to war for anybody.   I'm not going to lose my limbs for this country or any other country.

Comment by Big Shot... on July 21, 2015 at 4:59am
Good pics, but we have to understand that its two sides to this. I love the courage of them all and commend them for their strength to go on, not being weak, feeling sorry for themselves and shriving up. Many wrestle with severe mental disorders everyday coming home from war and cant gather themselves. The bad side is, this is the ugly side of war, thats why we dont want it, we should not be looking for it or creating it, this way we dont have to send our kids out there to come back mentally and physically damaged. War is not to be glamorized, when it is, we start to get use to the images, ignore or except the pain, get numb to all that is apart of war. And we have gone to war over lies told, money and earths resources. Dying for a fake agendas. Although I applaud these vets, I dont keep seeing these types of reminders.
Comment by Marlon brown on July 21, 2015 at 2:14am

Were are the female veterans? Too much Bulls we need some Heifers .

Comment by Shelton Minor on July 20, 2015 at 3:39pm

Powerful Images.  #salute

Comment by carolyn johnson on July 20, 2015 at 5:40am
Legs or no legs those are some sexy ass men
Comment by Roots aka TJ What De Ras on July 20, 2015 at 12:55am
Nice.
Comment by Ami Dis on July 19, 2015 at 5:40am
Yes they are all nice....what about the limbless black veterans?? Are they not worthy of being photograph too??????

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