by Talia Smith

Cover image of Issue 8

Try Hard Magazine is an independent, online publication focused on Australian and New Zealand photography. It is dedicated to showcasing the work of Australian photographers, New Zealand photographers and international photographers who may be living or working in either country. Try Hard Magazine also aims to encourage writers and academics to contribute original written content in the form of essays, interviews and book reviews that act to further the dialogue centered around the medium. Benjamin Chadbond and Patrick Mason are the editors.

You guys are eight issues in, can you tell me about your beginnings? How Try hard came about?

Patrick Mason (PM): Eight issues, that still surprises me; it’s gone quickly. Well firstly Ben and I are both from Newcastle but we didn’t actually meet until we were in Sydney. We both ended up working at the same bookshop and quickly bonded over our shared hometown and interest in photography. Working in a bookshop is an environment that is often conducive to long conversations and we regularly found ourselves talking at length about photography. Ben, bright spark that he is, had the idea to divert the energy of those conversations into something more productive and Try Hard Magazine is the result of that.

Screenshot interview with Trent Parke

Is there a story behind the name?

Benjamin Chadbond (BC): Not really. The name came at about the same time that we were first considering ideas of how the magazine would function and operate. It was the first name we had and came almost instinctively, it just happened to stick. The term try hard has a duel meaning that we both like. Commonly, the term is used as a self-deprecation or insult. That connotation seemed to sum-up the prevalence of Tall Poppy Syndrome in the Australian character.  Taken literally it also seemed represent what we were about, our plight so-to-speak. For us, try hard was both a mantra and a put-down, that suited us.

Try Hard issues from #1 to #8

What I really like about Try Hard is that each issue is really well thought out and curated with a diverse range of content. Is this something you work on together or do you each take an issue? What are your processes when planning an issue e,g theme, what writers to ask, artists etc? Do you work on a submission basis etc

PM: Each issue is often a mix of intent, timing and goodwill. We usually have a kind of ‘wish list’ of contributors for an issue but it’s not based on anything as concrete as a theme; it’s more about who we think would compliment each other and who’s work we find interesting. However, the reality of things is that sometimes the timing of an issue doesn’t work for someone we had in mind and then we have to go back to the drawing board and start thinking of who else might work. We do take submissions and we have found some great writers and artists that way but to date the majority of our content has come from people we have contacted.

© Benjamin Chadbond

Do you have any plans to release Try Hard in a hard copy format or are you committed to keeping it as accessible as possible?

BC: We are asked this question a lot and that’s exactly our answer. We’re committed to keeping it as accessible as possible. Our current resources or lack thereof mean that the best place for us to continue to do that is online. There are a lot of cons for moving Try Hard Magazine into print. That’s not to say we’re not passionate about print.  We are about to embark on a new venture under the title Try Hard Editions.  There’s not a lot that we can tell you about that yet. But what I can say is that we will be publishing small run artist photobooks with Australian and New Zealand photographers. We hope to release the first edition in a couple of months.    

© Benjamin Chadbond

You have done a few interviews outside of the magazine format but as Try Hard, do you have any more plans in the future for other Try Hard projects?

PM: One of the main reasons for starting Try Hard was to fill what we saw as a gap in the online representation of and discussion around Australian and New Zealand photographers, especially those who were in the early stages of their careers, and that’s what the focus of the magazine will continue to be. Saying that we are always interested in other opportunities that come from Try Hard and we have been lucky enough to have had the chance to work with a few international photographers we admire: Jason Fulford, Gregory Halpen, Ahndraya Parlato, Shane Lavalette and Esther Teichmann. Also as Ben mentioned we are currently starting a new publishing venture and have a few other projects in the works, without trying to sound too mysterious.

© Patrick Mason

In your ideal world, where would you like to see Try Hard go?

BC: Already the project has far succeeded our expectations. We would be totally fulfilled if we were able to continue to work on these and new projects motivated by the initial aims of Try Hard.  To be able contribute to a sense of community within the Australian photo world was one of our initial aspirations and aims when beginning the magazine. This is still very important to us and remains one of our driving forces.

If Try Hard had a soundtrack of at least 5 songs what would they be?

Modern Lovers – Pablo Picasso
DOOM – Cellz 
Bill Callahan – Riding for the feeling 
Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Fighting A Losing Battle
The Fall – Just Step S’ways

Can you tell me a little bit about your individual photographic practices or other solo projects?

BC: Currently I am working toward an exhibition of new work in Sydney with artist and good pal Kate Beckingham. The show is titled ‘New Ceremony’ and will open at First Draft Gallery in October.  There are also a couple of shows in the works for early 2015. Perhaps I’ll post those on my website when I finally get my act together.

PM: My photographic practice has always been haphazard to say the least. At the moment I am in the process of building my own website, which involves taking seven years worth of said haphazard practice and trying to find a form for it that will offer a semblance of cohesion.

What is currently inspiring you both, whether that be photography, books, film or music?

BC&PM: We both take inspiration from the people around us and that we’re working with.  Photography, books, film and music are really important to our daily lives and routine but there’s nothing like good conversation and collaboration.


Try Hard