Hilariously Awkward Family Photos...
Remember when the whole family would head to a photographer’s studio to pose for a portrait? It’s exactly those moments of overly staged family bonding that Mike Bender and Doug Chernack were banking on when they created AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, a website devoted to embarrassing user-submitted photos. Started on a whim after laughing over their own family pictures, the site was an immediate success, with over a million visitors—and a book deal—only a few days after launching. Since then, it’s grown to 200 photo submissions a day from all over the world, proof that awkward families are universal. Read on to see seven of the authors’ favorite shots from their new book, Awkward Family Photos.
Punks in Space
This mother-daughters portrait was one of the first submissions Bender and Chernack received for their website. “We just love this one visually,” says Bender. “The juxtaposition of the mom and her kids is great. And one of the best things about studio portraits is the backdrops they use, and this backdrop is amazing.”
One Christmas, this grandmother came across a sale on Dustbusters and decided to get one for each family member. They all posed with their new gifts and took a series of photos of themselves cleaning different parts of the house. “It just combines a great holiday photo with the randomness of the whole family holding Dustbusters,” says Chernack.
“There are so many things going on in this family reunion photo,” says Bender. “You’ve got the khakis filling up with air, the matching outfits…and there’s something about the group pose that is just wonderfully and gloriously awkward. We love the two people that have their knees up—the show-offs of the group.”
When they first started their website, Bender and Chernack were shocked by the number of families photographed in matching outfits. “We just love the idea that it’s not enough you’re related, you look like each other and you have the same last name. But you all have to wear the exact same outfits to hammer that point home,” Chernack says.
These parents were clearly trying to capture the perfect family moment, but instead they ended up with this hilarious shot. “Kids just give the most honest reactions—they can’t hide them,” says Bender. “That’s what makes this picture so funny.”
This is the photo that started it all. When Bender saw this vacation shot hanging on the wall at his parents’ house, he knew it was special. “It was my dad’s 60th birthday and he really wanted us to do this Rockettes thing—and he’s doing the full-body turn with the head turn. Classic. But I remember just being in pain. It was painful, and it still is,” he jokes. “I’m grateful that we were able to make use of this.”
One of the daughters in this incredible Christmas shot submitted the photo to AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, but when her parents saw it on the site they weren’t as amused, and asked that it be taken down. “Literally the same day we removed it, it was featured on Time.com. So then it was really out there.” says Bender. “When we told the family they were so cool about it. And then they let us feature it in our book. It’s one of our all-time favorites.”