Yeah I would go with the flash drive option... if the infected computer still boots, fire it up and put the jpeg images onto a flash. The odds on any virus following the transfer of your pics to that flash drive are slim to none. Then just wipe the drive with kill disc to start with an unallocated and fresh drive. Don't waste your money.
Actually, some viruses propogate through external drives. The drives get infected just by plugging them into an actively infected machine, and can infect machines with autorun enabled (you know, the screen that pops up asking what you want to do with this device.) I had a friend that had to do a complete system rebuild twice because he forgot to turn off autorun and install antivirus after the first rebuild before plugging in an external that was attached during infection.
Good and up to date antivirus can usually catch the crap on the drive and remove it before it can infect/reinfect the system; but unprotected/underprotected systems are susceptible. That said, I would use an external drive to back up the stuff and get a good antivirus (like kaspersky) before plugging it back in. I wouldn't trust a third party to preserve my data.
Depending on how much of a wipe we are talking about, the laptop may have a "restore to factory" recovery functionality built in. If you can back up all the important/personal stuff, you may not even need to rely on them for the cleaning.