An LA-based artist has photographed wounded veterans with a twist - rather than take "sorrowful" portraits, he's focused on their strength and sexuality.

Michael Stokes, a fitness photographer, is raising money through Kickstarter to publish a book of his powerful photographs of 14 US Army, Navy and Marine Corps veterans of the Iraq War, Gulf War, and War in Afghanistan.

He was inspired to start the series two years ago when he met Alex Minsky, a soldier wounded in Afghanistan, who got him thinking about different ways to approach a portrait of an amputee.

"I had already studied as many amputee photos that I could find. I noticed that most of them emphasised the lost limb, and that the mood was often sorrowful," he told the Huffington Post.

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"That was not the vibe I was getting from him, so I decided to simply photograph him as if he were not an amputee, photograph him exactly the same way I would any of my fitness models."

Since then, Minsky has found his own fame as a model and Stokes continued to take photographs of amputees and others wounded during war. So far, he has raised over US$260,000 on Kickstarter to help with the publication of two large-scale coffee table books of his work - titled Exhibition and Always Loyal.

"Some people will say to me 'Oh, this is really helpful to [the veterans'] self-esteem,' or, 'You're making them feel like men again,'" Stokes told MTV.

"...The response I have to that is that 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."

• For more pictures, check out Michael Stokes' Facebook page.

- nzherald.co.nz