But I treasure my kids' school pictures, even as I cringe writing out the checks each year. During my childhood my mom kept my school photos one behind the other in a frame, and when a new one came in, we would take out all the old ones and line them up. It was such a memorable thing, that look-how-I've-grown moment I had every year, hovering over the photos with my mom and laughing at some, cooing over others.
I do the same for my kids now, and they love it too. Here's the thing: As many photos as I have of them on my phone, I rarely print them out. Also, I'm not good about taking a "same way every year" photo, say of them on their birthday sitting in the same chair or whatever. These straight-on headshots are as close as I come to timeline photos that track my kids in about the same pose, at about the same time of year, every year.
So thank you, schools, for continuing this old ritual. My kids may be growing up with Instagram and Snapchat, but I'm glad I can make them stop for a few minutes each year to appreciate themselves on paper, too.