Jodi Cobb, "Juan and Liana", 2012, archival pigment print, 20x24”. Courtesy of National Geographic.

Jodi Cobb, “Juan and Liana”, 2012, archival pigment print, 20×24”. Courtesy of National Geographic.

Jodi Cobb

Juan Barbachano (at right) and his identical twin, Liana Hoemke, hold a photo of themselves as little girls with their baby brother. Juan, born Juanita, says that from an early age he felt like a male trapped in a female’s body. At 14 he attempted suicide. Ten years ago, at 32, Juan began treatments to change gender. “I’m more comfortable in my body than ever before,” he says. ëíJuan and Liana were just two of the dozens of sets of identical twins I photographed for The National Geographicís story A Thing or Two About Twins. My goal was to show how twins relate to each other, beyond the obvious physical qualities they share. I wanted to show their eerie similarities of movement, gesture and lifestyle, as well as their differences. Liana and Juan are now different genders, but their walk, expressions and gentle attitude towards the world were dramatically alike. Twins challenge our sense of uniqueness and often times can be confusing to us and even spooky. They are irresistible to scientists who study genetics and disease, but to me they are profoundly moving for that unique bond they share with each other.

Jodi Cobb (Washington D.C.) was a former long time staff member and now freelance photographer with National Geographic. She received her Master of Arts and bachelor of Journalism degrees from the University of Missouri and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Corcoran College of Art and Design. Jodi has been featured in group shows at Exit Art and Newseum (both in NYC). She has produced several articles for National Geographic including, This Thing Called Love, 21st-Century Slaves, The Enigma of Beauty, and Bahia: Where Brazil Was Born. She has contributed to several National Geographic books, including the Day in the Life series, Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Wall, Here Be Dragons; The Way Home: Ending Homelessness in America and Women Photographerís at National Geographic. She regularly teaches at workshops and has lectured all over the world at such venues as the International Center of Photography, the Asia Society, the Japan Society, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Jodi Cobb was the first woman to be named White House Photographer of the Year in 1985 and has also won several awards from the National Press Photographerís Association and World Press. Her book Geisha: The Life, the Voices, the Art was published in 2000.