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Shooting with Both Eyes Open | A Christmas Wish from your Friendly Neighborhood Photographer

There are two big rules my daddy always told me when learning how to shoot:

#1 Don't point it at anybody you don't actually want to shoot.

#2 Make sure you shoot with both eyes open.

That first one is obvious, but that second one? It always tripped me up. Still does, obviously.

Do you ever get so hyper-focused on what is right in front of you, you forget to look around and see the big picture? It's like that other thing that mom used to tell me - "Look both ways before crossing the street..."

The periphery is important. The periphery is what tells the story.

As a photographer, I love how you can look at a photo and see a million different stories. You might notice the expression on a person's face, or the way the light sprays through the trees, or the way a road winds forever into the horizon. And the thing is, even in one photo, one literal moment, you can find a story.

Every single moment of our lives is a piece of our puzzle. We are not complete without each of them.

I think about where I am sometimes, and how I got here. It was not my intention. I wrote something last year about how things sometimes aren't "what we expect." But life is magical nonetheless.

Real talk - do you ever just suddenly have the realization that you are existing?! I do that all the time.. Like when I realize that I'm thinking. That I'm having thoughts. And that I'm living. I look at my hands and wonder if this is real. I look at the sky and the ground that my feet are standing on and just REALIZE THAT I'M HERE.

Isn't reality so surreal sometimes? It's happening right now.

I feel closest to God in those moments too. I know that I have a spirit and soul created and instilled in me. I know that I was put here on purpose, and for a purpose. I feel warmth knowing that kind of love exists.

On the other side of that same coin, I get sad sometimes too. I wonder if I'm "doing it right." I get overwhelmed at all of the possibilities I have in front of me, and even more so at the ones behind me. The roads I didn't take. The choices I didn't make.

Am I where I'm supposed to be?

I am perpetually asking that question. I don't know about you, but I want to make sure I make the most out of this "one wild and precious life" I've been so graciously given. A life un-lived seems far too tragical.

Every day we are taking steps towards our future. Baby steps lead to big choices and then before we know it, it's ten years later and we're looking at a life we didn't necessarily mean to build, but we built it nonetheless. And if we look closely, in each of those tiny peripheral moments, we find ourselves, and we learn from ourselves, and we grow.

So can we learn to live with both eyes open?

Can we look at (and learn from) our past, while simultaneously looking towards the future to see where it might take us?

Honestly I think Christmas is the perfect time for it. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who I think is the epitome of someone who learned to live with both eyes open, maybe let's try to remember that our past may have made us, but it is our future that guides us.

May we all experience the joy and peace and comfort that comes from a past we learn from, a present we are grateful for, and a future that gives us hope. What a gift.

I sincerely wish you all the merriest of Christmases, wherever you're at in your journey.

and p.s...maybe try to make the journey nice for the person next to you too.



Jessi Casara Photography

Jessi is a lifestyle documentary photographer based in southern Alabama, serving the Gulf Coast from Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL, along with the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta areas. She specializes in couple, wedding, maternity, newborn and family photography, and also enjoys commercial and creative portraiture. Available for travel worldwide. Find out more at


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