Last Autumn, I received a wonderful surprise: Two long-time clients of mine who had moved away from Cyprus with their children returned for a visit, hoping to enjoy the sunny beaches of this beautiful island before winter set in, and they asked me to join them as their photographer. I’d had the pleasure of being present at Andy’s Christening, and I’d done a previous family photo shoot at Amathus beach (you can see it here), so I was delighted to witness another chapter in this growing family’s life together.

This time, I recorded with my camera what I hope will be a new tradition: That of the family vacation, the annual ritual of returning to a place that slows the pace of life and reminds us that beneath the frenetic details of the day-to-day, the central current that drives us is the joy of time spent with our loved ones. For Andy, Emma, and their parents, walking again along the familiar streets and stretches of golden sand was like being embraced by a warm-hearted relative—someone with whom memories of comfort and the intangible feeling of “home” are always going to be associated.

Creating The Perfect Family Vacation in 3 Simple Steps

Though there is much to be said for exploring, if you have a family, making a point of returning to a special location each year can create an anchor that pulls everyone back together and encourages them to reconnect and create lifelong memories. To get the most out of your annual vacations, you and your family should:

1. Establish special rituals associated only with your yearly vacation. Activities like a yearly “tournament” using a certain sport or board game can help everyone to shed the stress of life back home and truly get into the spirit of vacation… These shared activities pull people away from their phones and computers and show them how to truly engage with each other once again. Rituals like this also make for the perfect family photo shoot; even just a trip to the beach, as I captured during the family photo shoot at Amathus shown below, can create the perfect opportunity for everyone to relax and reveal the essence of the love that binds them together.

2. Keep things fresh by introducing a new challenge each year. Though returning to the same place annually has the comfort of familiarity, young children can sometimes become bored with the lack of novelty. So, to ensure you create new and exciting memories every year, set a new challenge for each vacation; for example, you might try snorkeling one year, hiking a scenic trail the next, etc.

3. Have professional photos taken. While many families pose together for pictures during their vacations, staged photos can never capture the soul of what it was like to walk together, share activities, laugh together, smile, or hold hands. If, on the other hand, you hire a professional photographer as this family did and have a family photo session, you can remove yourselves from the task of photography and simply interact with one another while letting someone else think about how to capture those precious moments. Professional photographers know how to draw on the rituals that make your vacation special and the unique personalities of each family member to create photographs that reflect who you are as a family, not just where you happened to be at the time. Though this requires a bit of time taken out of your vacation, in the end, it’s well worth it: Memories are, after all, the best souvenirs—and photographs are a way to ensure that they last a lifetime.

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