Get Published!

Is there a secret to getting your work into a magazine? Well, no, maybe, yes, hmmm, that is a tough question. Here at FOLK I am always hunting for high quality projects, stories, photos, etc to include in our issues. I thought I’d ramble on about my top tips for getting published. These tips go across the board for any magazine.


You learn a lot when you’re sitting at the computer doing layouts for hours and hours each issue. Photos are the biggest flaws I see many bloggers doing. All of the problems I see can easily be fixed — all while keeping your style. I know I have had more to learn than most anyone.

Get to know your camera — and your lens. The most important part of photography is the camera. I in no way mean you have to shoot with a Canon 5-D. I don’t. I shoot the bulk of each issue, and the photos you see online with a Canon 60-D. The secret is to invest in lenses. This is if you are shooting with a DSLR camera. For blogging and submitting to magazines a point and shoot will work just fine. Just know how to work your camera. I have even printed quite a few photos that I’ve taken with my iPhone.
If you are shooting with a DSLR don’t be afraid to take a class (be it online or in person) or simply abduct the nearest photographer you know. Over the past few years I have had a friend and a photographer answer all my questions. After a while I started to get a hang of what I was doing.  When shooting with a DSLR there are a few things to remember:
Shoot in RAW. If you have the option to shoot in RAW you will want to do it. The quality of your images will blow you away. I had all of my writers switch to shooting RAW. They now all shoot in RAW on their blogs. If you can’t shoot in RAW make sure you are shooting in the highest quality possible. A magazine will have to look at the size of the image. I tell people to shoot and submit in the largest size possible. I can easily shrink a photo. I cannot make one bigger.

After some practice shooting in manual will become your favorite. Up until recently I was terrified of manual. I had been shown all the ropes a long time ago. It took plenty of practice to convince me how important it is. Manual allows you to get the photos you’ve dreamt of. My biggest advice for shooting in manual is to keep you ISO as low as possible. This will affect grain. The lower the ISO the less grain. Often times if you are shooting in darker lighting you will then have to adjust your shutter speed lower than desired — for this bring out the tripod. Embrace the tripod. Play with your shutter speed. This is what affects exposure. I, in my personal photography, under expose for darker earthier feels most of the time; I am a huge fan of which under exposes most every image. It is a matter of preference. For submission purposes shoot with a very natural exposure. This is safer for us to print, and will increase your chances of being selected.

Speaking of lighting — natural lighting is a must! The best shooting is near a window or in a shaded area. Partly cloudy days give perfectly lighting. Too much light causes shadows, not enough lighting causes colors not to pop. It is a very thin line for lighting perfection. I do the bulk of our shooting in the mornings when the light is white and soft. I find afternoon light to turn my photos orange. Don’t be afraid to play with the direction your light comes from. You’ll be amazed at how much it can change an image.
Editing photos is super easy. I recommend using software like Adobe Lightroom. Photoshop mastery is certainly not a must. Keep your editing to a minimum. Light retouching is cool. Creating harsh contrast is not. Editing is a big make or break for submissions. Keep the colors natural, keep the contrast natural, keep the retouching natural, keep the effects natural — basically here I am saying to keep it natural. Always avoid borders, stickers, text, or anything of that nature. When you submit photos do so without watermarks. It is a pain for the magazine to have to ask you to resubmit without watermarks.

Lastly make sure your photos are at least 300 DPI. This is very important in getting a good resolution.


This may be the most important part of this entire piece. Make sure your submission is original. In today’s setting we are very eager to see new, ground breaking content. We don’t want to see the same project we have seen on Pinterest 1,000 times before. Speaking of Pinterest, I love Pinterest, but Pinterest is not the place to go if you are looking to create original content. Have I said Pinterest enough? I personally have to stay totally off of Pinterest. On average I produce 20-30 of my own ideas and issue and produce 15 stories a month for our blog. The more I am on Pinterest the more I find myself accidently stealing ideas, styling, or concepts. If you submit a piece to a magazine and we head over to Pinterest only to find 25 identical projects we aren’t going to be able to run your piece. However does this mean I don’t like Pinterest? Nope, not at all! It is great for sharing your own ideas, and finding ideas for yourself — just not ideas to share with others. Be original. Be brave. Be yourself!

On that note, don’t be afraid to rethink a classic idea. I have a cookbook from the late 1800s that I am rethinking all the recipes for. That totally works. I am keeping it fresh and adapting it to 2012.


Photo styling is rather important. Photo styling is what causes you to fall in love with images. One rule runs this — keep it simple. Nothing speaks more than simple styling. Timeless styling also works well too. I try to use vintage items as often as possible so our pages won’t become dated as quickly.  For styling don’t be afraid to develop your own style. My personal style is super rich and earthy. I am training in Early American style, even in a modern setting I still lean towards Early American elements. With that mix of modern and Early American I have developed a style that is my own and that is recognizable. Creating your own style will cause you to quickly rise. We love people with their own voices, both in photo and text.


Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. However do this only if you are working daily to improve your talent. I try to learn something new every day. Even as an expert I have a ton to learn. My motto as an Editor-in-Chief is that I am here to learn with you. We will learn together, having fun all the while! On that note research how to submit. Get to know us, the editors. I am active on my personal Facebook profile and with the FOLK page with the reader/follower. The more you know about us, the more we will want to know about you. In the end we both win. This also allows us to see your posts, find your Facebook page, and stumble upon your blog. I have found many stories this way.

           Final Thoughts:

In the end it is simply about being original and unafraid to fail. Keep learning and keep growing, you’ll be published in no time. If you get rejected the first time keep working and resubmit, ask for feedback. We are more than happy to give it. Keep in mind that we aren’t heartless; we are simply running a business. Each page in an issue costs us thousands. We have to be very wise about what we print.

Good luck — and in the comments below be sure to give your thoughts. We are all in this together!

WANT TO SUBMIT TO FOLK'S CHRISTMAS ISSUE? I am on the hunt for stories for this issue. Do you have favorite Christmas memories? If so let me know. I am doing a special section on reader submitted stories. I am also on the hunt for veterans stories for a salute in the issue to our nation's service men and women. ( 


  1. awesome.. how about doing some artist features, artists that created their art and their business in the USA...usually we submit photos of our work, and then the publications ask us to write an article.. is that what you would want? and it is about jumping the speed bumps and living carpe diem...don't take no, keep your eyes on the road!one must "fit" into their life to accomplish happiness and success, whatever your definition of that is! thanks for being there...

  2. Hi Ben! Thank you for this wonderful information. I am excited about the story on Veterans! My father is a retired Colonel from the Air Force, and flew Air Force 2, based at Andrews Air Force Base. He is 79 and is in Hospice care right now and does not have much longer. I would love to write something in honor of him, what do you think?

  3. and when would be the deadline on this? Thank you, Ruth Barnes, Memphis,Tn.-Southern Junkers Group!

  4. Thanks for the great tips! I just recently discovered your lovely magazine and adore it. I will take your advice to heart. :) Oh, and I totally agree about Pinterest. I post my own projects on there, but try so hard not to spend too much time browsing about for the very reasons you stated!!

    Have a happy day!

  5. Great tips and insights! I need to look into Adobe Lightroom.

    1. Emily, check out Adobe Cloud... its a monthly membership, but you get access to all of Adobe's design programs. My staff uses them for our designing of the issues and photo editing... and more if I knew how to use the other programs :-/

  6. That was very insightful Ben, thank you! As an advertiser in a past issue, you recently sent me a Folk Music book along with a personal message, and I thank you very much for that! Great read...and great idea. I have many original pieces and events created from old vintage objects and you have inspired me to dust off the camera and submit some pictures to you! Thank you!
    ~Jennifer Boehler

  7. Greetings from Bainbridge Island........
    Thank you for sharing your insights into getting published.
    Something I will be working towards in the not to distant future.

  8. Great insight into the mind of an editor Ben! It's definitely a visual world and photos are key (I'm actually taking the plunge and getting a dlsr)! I'm here to learn too - wouldn't life be a bore if we knew it all!

    Love your photos and you've definitely got your own style. Your idea of adapting an old cookbook is fabulous too!


  9. Love it - Thank you for taking the time to post this!! I will most definitely be sending you some things in the near future! All the best to you!! :) Liz

  10. Wonderful information here, Ben. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. As I've honed in on great photography and good, relevant content my blog numbers have risen as well. I'm also being asked for my photos for magazine features, so this is very useful to me to hear about how to edit them.

    It's been great getting to know you on your personal facebook page and other groups. You are inspiring. Love what you guys are doing at Folk.

  11. This is such great information, Ben! It's been great getting to know you. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Awesome tips Ben!!! Thank you so much for sharing them with us!! :)

  13. Great tips ... I'm going to have to pin this Ben! I'm still trying to get used to my DSLR and am terrified of manual! And now I'm going to have to Google what RAW is and what 300 DPI means!



  14. I came over from Blogtalk and enjoyed your post. A lot of it is over my head, which proves that I needed to be shoved into learning more about my camera. Thank you for inspiring me. laurie

  15. This is some really great advice, Ben. I just got a 60D and have been looking into what my best lens options are. Can you tell me what lens you would recommend for my first investment ... that would head me on the right track. Thank you so much for the info ... and the beautiful pictures!

  16. Thanks so much for all the great insider tips, Ben! I need to check out Lightroom, but mainly I need to learn how to take great pictures, one of the most frustrating things for me.

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your insights as an editor. I agree, that we are learning every day, or should be!


  18. New to your site! I saw this post on a facebook page recommendation and jumped over. Great tips and I stopped using my flash 6 months ago. yay! Thanks so much for sharing your tips and suggestions. Good stuff :)

  19. Thank you so much for this post, Ben. I'm always learning too, so I appreciate the insight! Adobe Lightroom is heaven sent.


Post a Comment