Survey: More people want their pets in photos than their in-laws

Posted on July 15, 2013 

Photo-focused social media sites and easy-to-use, inexpensive digital and cell phone cameras have certainly changed the way we take photos. When we were limited to 12 to 24 photos per roll of film, we were most likely to capture important family occasions and take posed photos where everyone said "cheese." Now, we can take as many photos as we want of a butterfly on a blade of grass or our dog sleeping on the sofa. Has technology just made it easier to shoot these less significant moments or have we actually changed our minds about what we want to see in our photos? A June survey commissioned by Skype and conducted online by Harris Interactive aimed to find out.

Open grandma's photo album and you'll see photos documenting particularly important occasions: birthday parties, weddings, formal dances, graduations. Open mom's photo album and you'll likely encounter grandma's staples plus some fun and candid shots: kids playing in fallen autumn leaves, dad grilling up his famous hamburgers and your brother diving into a hotel swimming pool during some long-ago family vacation.

Your photo album is more likely to be digital than an actual book. A photo of last night's dinner and Friday's after-work cocktail are likely next to that snapshot of your daughter running through the sprinkler.

The study indicates we might be reminiscent for the more-formal family portraits found in our parents and grandparents photo albums. The survey found that among 2,074 U.S. adults, one in two people (49 percent) wished they took family portraits more often, with one in four (24 percent) saying they haven’t taken a professional family portrait in recent years because their family members live far away.

Here are some more interesting conclusions from the survey:

Pets: More people would choose to include pets (56%) in a family photo than in-laws (50%), step-parents (41%) and some extended family like cousins (42%) or aunts/uncles (45%).

Posing: People are split between preferring formal, posed styles (46%) or silly poses over serious poses (36%) but outfit themes or having everyone dress alike could be on their way out, with only 26% and 28% agreeing that they do this, respectively.

Prints: More people send prints of portraits to family and friends (48%) than share digital images of them (38%) or on social media channels (29%).

Nostalgia reigns: more than half of adults have looked at family portraits from their childhood within the past year, according to the survey, and three-quarters say displaying family photos in their homes is extremely or very important to them (more than those who feel strongly about displaying collectibles, souvenirs, awards or fine art).

Contemporary artist John Clang combines Skype video calling with digital projection and photography to produce modern portraits of families separated by thousands of miles. His subjects range from a father unable to return to his family in Uganda to a zookeeper who had to leave her beloved Wallabies behind in Australia, and two young cousins who remain best friends despite living on two different continents. Learn more about Chang's photography and share a personal story about keeping in contact with far-way family with Skype for a chance to win a long-distance family portrait at

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