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Pictures can tell countless stories--sometimes the most interesting come from behind the lens

Damien Luten
Damien Luten
Damien Luten demonstrates how he typically holds his camera when he takes a shot. This is one of his many cameras he uses for Messiah Designs photo shoots. P

Damien Luten’s military career ended abruptly when he was ambushed on a mission.

"While we was driving through a town in Iraq, March 23, 2003, a round came through the door and hit me in my leg," recalls Luten. "After being shot and going through my recovery process, really trying to get back into society and cope with PTSD, other invisible wounds of the military services."

Luten came back home with a Purple Heart, and a long road to recovery.

"I had to learn how to walk all over again. A lotta things I couldn’t do now that I’m limited because of my disability. And you can't transition over into a civilian sector because you're not able to do that job anymore," said Luten. "You know, dealing with depression, depression is a real thing and hits you in all kinds of forms. So now you find yourself 'Okay, what am I going to do next?'”

"The camera was a way for me to reconnect with my family and friends and loved ones. And from there it turned from a therapy to a hobby where we are now to a full-fledged business."

Luten runs a photography business in Southwest Florida called Messiah Designs.

"I photograph just about anything because I love the creative process of photography," said Luten. "My thing is to tell a story through imagery. So as I take pictures, you know, they say a picture or a thousand words. I want to tell lots and lots of stories."

He has expanded his business to telling the stories of veteran entrepreneurs including how they began their businesses and why they do what they do. He says those stories have the power to heal, and to bring veterans together.

"We are a community. If we talk to enough people we’re gonna find exactly what we need."