If you don't want to do it then don't. But why demonize people who do? I don't think taking pictures with Santa is any more bizarre than any other world cultural/religious custom (for example, shaving girls' heads when they turn two, eating fish soaked in lye and then reconstitutued, baking a cake with tokens in it zOMG CHOKING HAZARD!!!! for people to find for "luck", kissing a wall that millions of other people have kissed and unintentionally drooled on, burning someone in effigy while enjoying fireworks, ect).
Really, parents who get their kids' pictures taken with santa are grooming them for future sexual abuse?
Crying photos don't necessarily mean the kid was crying the whole time. To be honest with you, with three kids very close in age, we have a LOT of crying photos and normally it was because of bad timing--someone decided to poke someone/steal something/look at the other one funny right as the photographer's finger pressed the button. Oh well.
If you don't like Santa, don't get pictures. If you don't like pictures of crying kids (where you have no clue as to what the circumstance was--we are talking about toddlers and preschoolers here for the most part) then for heaven's sake don't look at those websites. There's no need to project your interpretations wholescale though.
That's just as silly as those people who think that there can't be <insert holiday here> WITHOUT <insert inane custom here>.
We've never done holiday photos with character of choice because I am cheap and there's nothing I detest more than having to wrangle three babies/toddlers/preschoolers/some combo thereof in a long line with a bunch of other overstimulated children and cranky parents. My parents were pissy with that decision, how dare I deprive them of that privledge--but...they got over it. (Or more correctly, they stopped wasting their breath complaining to me about it.) If other people want to do that, or if they have great experiences in the adventure of it all, I want them to go for it. Not my biz.
Now, to get back to my own hellish cultural ritual tomorrow nigh of going to an overpriced, fat-laden restaurant on the anniversary of one's birth and not only eating a meal that is not organic or slow food but also partaking in the bizarre ritual of having a bunch of uniformed, minimum waged total strangers sing a song for me and and present me with a corn-syrup heavy frozen dessert with a red "cherry" on top that is so laden with preservatives it could probably survive nuclear fallout. Oh yeah, with a shot of propellant laced "dairy like" product on the top too. Someone may even take my picture. I will not be smiling because I hate having my picture taken. If I'm lucky it will not end up on a website somewhere. ;> I am sure there is someone in the world right now that would think that is the weirdest thing they have ever heard of.