Capturing a moment in time… that’s what photography is all about… evoking a feeling. That’s exactly what Cave Spring High School senior Colleen Truskey did when she took a striking picture of fellow classmate and friend Sarah Beth Penny. But when Truskey posted the photo to the popular art sharing website DeviantArt.com, she never expected it to become something recognized by a national audience, much less a well-known publishing house. Yet, that’s what happened. Truskey’s picture was discovered by a representative from Random House and chosen to be used as the cover for a new young adult book called, “Flutter,” by author Gina Linko.
Truskey had been posting her pictures onto DeviantArt for years, “It was a nice place to keep my favorites. I wasn’t seeking anything, I just posted them there to keep them someplace nice,” she said. She continued, “I got my first serious heavy duty camera my freshman year, but I’ve been interested in taking pictures since I was a kid. I loved grabbing the camera and taking pictures.” For Truskey, taking pictures is a way of life. It’s a passion for her and one she loves to do with friends, “it’s something I do for fun, just goofing around with friends,” she said. In fact, that’s exactly what she was doing when she took the picture that landed her the deal with Random House.
“I had really been wanting to work with Sarah Beth for a long time,” Truskey said, “She has that ethereal look that I was going for. I had an image in my mind of what I wanted.” The photo shoot was at Bent Mountain, at their classmate Kendall Scott’s family property. “It’s a beautiful land; I’m really grateful, the lighting, everything just came together,” said Truskey, “we were just having this amateur shoot, just having fun, not expecting something so big to come out of it.” Sarah Beth added, “The wind kept getting in my face but Colleen kept telling me just make a moment out of it.” And that’s exactly what Sarah Beth did. She made a moment of it. “My major goal was to get this image that I had in my mind. I wanted to capture that shot. This one was an accident. We got lucky,” said Truskey.
Shortly after Truskey posted the picture onto DeviantArt, along with other photos from that day, she received a message from a representative of Random House. Truskey laughs, “it was funny because she [the representative] said she was interested in one of my pieces and wanted to know my terms. I thought it was fake, but a part of me was holding out hope.” After being cautious and checking everything out to make sure the representative was legitimate, “it started solidifying. I got her email, spoke with her over the phone, started talking about legal stuff. I was just like, whoah! I couldn’t stop saying thank you!” Truskey immediately emailed Sarah Beth and they both basked in the excitement. This was a world totally unknown to most people, let alone, two teenagers who had never been involved in the publishing world. “It was a great honor. It meant a lot to have someone think so highly of your work,” said Truskey and continued by saying, “doing this was a major learning experience. I had no idea that there was so much that went into just the cover of a book.”
The book, called “Flutter” by young adult author Gina Linko is very complex, you can read more about it here, but the main idea behind the novel is time travel. “There are so many interpretations of the picture on the cover, and someone at Random House just thought of time travel when they saw it,” said Truskey. That’s not exactly what she had in mind when she shot the picture, but she doesn’t mind. And Sarah Beth Penny, the face on the cover, doesn’t mind either. When I asked her how she felt about having her face on the cover of a book, she said, “it’s hard to describe. It’s a really great honor. The main character is a great person but it’s weird to be the face of a character. For me books have always been an escape and now I get to be a part of someone else’s escape. It was like I was almost going on my own adventure. “
It truly was an adventure for both Truskey and Penny. “It’s hard to put into words how amazing it was.” It was an amazing journey… two years in the making,” said Truskey. Even after two years, Gina Linko, the author of “Flutter,” still keeps in touch with both girls. “She really took the time to get to know us and we still stay in touch with her,” the girls said. “Gina Linko is a young adult author and I think she was really happy because a teenager took the picture for a teenage book,” said Truskey. Linko even took the time to interview Truskey, (you can read the interview here) and asked both Truskey and Penny to shoot some scenes for the book trailer (you can view that here).
“Flutter” is currently out nationwide in bookstores and online. With the publication of the book, a chapter in the lives of both Truskey and Penny has closed in one way, but in another way it’s opened a whole new world to them with endless possibilities and a bright future. Sarah Beth Penny is headed to George Mason University where she plans on double majoring in broadcast journalism and dance. “It’s weird because I’m considered a professional model now because of the book,” said Penny. As for Truskey, “I’m still undecided as to where I will be going for school.” And when I asked her if she plans on majoring in photography she said no and continued, “art is a very serious hobby of mine. I put a lot of time and effort into it. I enjoy the whole creative process.” She hopes to major in something like anthropology and use photography as a means of escape; a way to express herself. “But it’s weird for me because I am considered a professional photographer now,” said Truskey.
The journey from high school students to professional model and photographer was one that both Truskey and Penny took with a great deal of grace and maturity. Neither of them sought recognition or fame, but instead fame found them. Truskey summed up their experience well when she said, “You do it for the sake of fun. If something happens with it great, if not that’s okay too. That’s pretty much our journey.”
Congratulations to both girls for their successful journey, which I’m sure is far from over.