For Army wives, an image of independence

Three years ago, Lea Hartman took up photography to deal with the pressures of life as an Army spouse. Today she’s leveraged that interest into a project devoted to showing the strength of fellow wives.

To date she has photographed nine women for the I Am Project, a collection of black and white images featuring a military wife with an empowering expression painted on her body. The expressions range from “I am Independent,” to “I am a Survivor” to “I am Blessed.”

“I decided to create a series of images that allow us to put a voice and a face to the title of ‘Army Wife,'” Hartman told Sarah Campbell of the Fayetteville Observer. “I felt military spouses weren’t well represented in the media in general.”

The photos are simple, direct and moving. Much of their power comes from their authenticity. As Lea says on the project website, “Though we may not wear a uniform, we serve our country with each breath we take.”

You can see the work at the I Am Project website and on Hartman’s blog and read her story on Stars and Stripes.