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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Intent, Focal Point, and Story

  • 5 min read

Intent, Focal Point, and Story

Artist Interview with Jan Heastont

Jan Heastontis a photographer based in Canada who brings to life her focal point through intent and story creation. We had the opportunity to interview her and learn more about her process!

Jan Heastont with Lensbaby Velvet 28

Q: When did you start taking photographs and why did you continue?

A: I started taking photos when I was a teenager but stopped when I started working and entered into “adult life”. Many years later, when my kids left home and I needed something to fill that empty void, I bought a DSLR and it didn’t take long till I was hooked!


Q: Which is your favorite Lensbaby lens and why?

A:The answer to this question changes depending on what I’m shooting. When I bought the Velvet 28, I was worried I wouldn’t use it much but it’s now on my camera more than any other lens, particularly when I shoot infrared. I love the 28mm focal length when it comes to capturing landscapes and it doesn’t hurt that it can also focus as close as 2” from a subject if I want to do that as well. The optic which most captures my heart is the Double Glass, now replaced by the Sweet 50, it makes my heart skip a beat when I use it for floral macros. I also have the Sweet 50, it’s a more recent purchase, so I haven’t had a chance to use it as much as I would like. I wanted the Sweet 50 because I love the Double Glass so much and the Sweet 50 has an aperture ring which makes it easier to use than the aperture disks that come with the Double Glass.

Jan Heastont with Lensbaby Velvet 28

Q: What tips do you have for beginners just learning how to use the Velvet 28 Lens?

A:When you first start using Lensbaby gear, you may be discouraged because your images don’t look as amazing as the ones you’ve seen online, the images that lead you to make your purchase in the first place. We’ve all been there! I start by choosing a simple stationary subject that has good lighting then I play with the aperture. If I’m using an optic that tilts, I don’t tilt it straight away, I wait till I see what it produces at different apertures pointing straight ahead then I start tilting very slightly. Becoming comfortable is a gradual process particularly if you aren’t used to manual focus. When focusing, try using Live View and zooming in to get accurate focus. There’s no right or wrong way to do things, don’t let anyone discourage you from using a method that works for you.


Q: What professional photographers have influenced your work, and how do you incorporate their techniques into your photographs?

A: I particularly love painterly photos, so I've been more inspired by painters than by photographers. I especially love John Constable, Joseph Farquharson, Claude Lorrain and Joseph Turner.


Jan Heastont with Lensbaby

Q: What is the most difficult part of being a photographer?

A: The most difficult part for me is staying motivated and not getting discouraged when I don't feel like shooting or when I am shooting but don't like the results. I find watching tutorials and learning something new helps me get excited to shoot and see results I'm happy with.


Q: Do you have formal training as a photographer or are you self-taught? What was that journey like?

A: I'm a self-taught photographer, I've literally watched hundreds of hours of tutorials and I never want to stop learning. The journey was difficult at first but I learned how to find reliable sources for learning. In the beginning, I watched way too many videos and read too many articles by people who weren't very knowledgeable. Nowadays it's easy and free to post things online, you don't have to be an expert, so it's vital to discover good resources.


Jan Heastont with Lensbaby

Q: What details do you believe make the best photographs? How do you go about focusing on them in your work?

A: There has to be an intent, a focal point and a story. I try to slow down, think about what I see in front of me and decide how I can frame the subject to convey my feelings. It's one thing to see a subject you love but the next step is to bring it to life. You can see a beautiful sunset but if you don't have an interesting foreground, you don't have a great photograph. All details matter, it's important to pay attention to the details you don't want as well as the ones you do.


Q: What inspires you most?

A: Nature inspires me the most. I'm an introvert, I love being alone, walking amongst the trees or by the water. I can't "feel" a photo when I'm surrounded by people, so I try to be alone with nature whenever I can.


Q: Tell us your favorite quote!

A: I have two favourite quotes "Dreams do come true" and "Chase your Dreams". I'm a great believer in making life move in the direction you want it to go. I don't believe in letting life happen to you, take the wheel or life will pass you by.


Jan Heastont with Lensbaby Velvet 85

Q: What is your favorite subject to photograph?

A: I love to photograph nature.


Q: How would you describe your photography style?

A: I don't think of myself as having a specific style, my style evolves as I learn new things.


Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?

A: Loving what I do and hearing people say they love it too.


Jan Heastont

Jan is a Canadian photographer, originally from Scotland, who has made her home in rural Southern Ontario, Canada. She lives on a farm in beautiful Haldimand County near the shores of Lake Erie. Jan also loves to spend as much time as possible on Manitoulin Island, her second home. Manitoulin is also known as “Spirit Island”, the largest freshwater island in the world. The places she has lived and the people in her life, have inspired her to follow her dreams and pursue her love of photography.



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