Katie Stubblefield is the youngest person to receive a face transplant in the United States and only the 40th person in the world. This story chronicles her remarkable journey from 2016 to 2018 at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, experienced through intimate photographs.
Until Katie decided to let National Geographic tell her story, these life-changing transplant surgeries had been hidden within a medical labyrinth. Patients were not revealed until healed and prepped for a news conference where they showed their new faces, along with photos of their disfigured ones. No one had chronicled the experience of losing a face and getting a new one until now.
Her parents, Robb and Alesia, fought for their daughter day in, day out to nurse her back to health after she attempted to take her life by a rifle shot to the face in 2014.
This is a story of trauma, identity, resilience, devotion, and amazing medical miracles.
A Guggenheim Grant Fellow and contributing photographer to National Geographic, Maggie Steber is an internationally known documentary photographer whose work has appeared in major magazines, newspapers and book anthologies as well as national and international exhibitions. She has worked in 70 countries specializing in stories concerning the human condition. Her photographs are included in the American Women Collection at the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Richter Library.
Steber was named as one of 11 Women of Vision by National Geographic Magazine, Steber has worked as a picture editor for Associated Press, a contract photographer for Newsweek Magazine, and as the Director of Photography at The Miami Herald. She is a member of VII Photo Agency.
Her photographs are included in the Library of Congress, Richter Collection, and private collections.
Clients include National Geographic Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Aperture Quarterly, Fortune, Smithsonian, People Magazine, Time Magazine, Stern of Germany, Newsweek Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, CARE, Der Spiegel, DU Magazine of Switzerland, Merian Magazine of Germany, The Independent in Britain, and French Geo, as well as many others. She teaches workshops through the Leica Akademie USA as well as at various International festivals.
Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, she is known for finding beauty and meaning in elusive, difficult subjects—threatened languages, zoonotic disease, rape in the military ranks, the centrality of water in village life, mysteries of the brain. Hate Kills, her master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, probed the impact of hate crimes. At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth find their creative voices. And at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, she developed and teaches a program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their stories’ truth. She herself is committed to that search frame by frame. Johnson has worked for LIFE and Sports Illustrated and published 36 feature stories in National Geographic Magazine. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Award and Pulitzer finalist on two occasions.
Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic, the most popular brand on Instagram, has more than 215 million followers.
Katie’s New Face
Curated by: Kurt MutchlerView Location Details Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars Los Angeles,
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AN EVENING WITH THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: STORYTELLING THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
Join National Geographic’s award-winning photographers and editors as they discuss how they build relationships to create impactful visually led storytelling.Learn More
The Emotional Journey of Photographing a Face Transplant
Join Maggie and Lynn’s experience documenting the emotional two and a half year journey of Katie Stubblefield, the youngest face transplant patient in the U.S.Learn More