SURF THIS: Think your family is awkward? Check this out.

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Jim Cota

This is an article I didn’t want to write, for two reasons: First, I know several people who regularly read these articles and depend on me (to some degree) to keep them informed about what’s happening online.

Second, sharing this guilty pleasure makes me feel a little … well, grimy. Especially in light of the first reason.

But it seems to me we’ve reached a point in our lives, with this economy, the unemployment rate, and tax day right around the corner, where we could use a good laugh. So I’ve decided it’s time to tell you about Awkward Family Photos (www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com).

Now, it’s true that there’s a certain amount of poking fun at other people going on at Awkward Family Photos. But unlike other sites (for example, www.peopleofwalmart.com), many of the photos featured on AFP were actually provided by the people in the picture. Once you’ve seen a few of them, you’ll recognize this behavior as some sort of therapy, something along the lines of, “You can’t expect me to be normal. Look what my mother made me do.”

Now, a quick word about People of Walmart.  

Web review The Web site Awkward Family Photos specializes in cringe-worthy material from the general public. (Photo Courtesy AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com)

I can’t keep you from wasting a good part of your day there, but you should be forewarned that to truly appreciate it requires some amount of pleasure at the expense of your fellow man. And woman. On the other hand, it should be noted that the people featured here dressed themselves and left their homes to go shopping. So, in some ways, I think they can be held accountable.

Awkward Family Photos, on the other hand, often features the unfortunate result of people with some amount of creativity trying to create something unique with their family mementos. There are photos of people stacked like lemmings, fanned out like flowers, or in groupings that are neither well-thought-out nor appropriate for the occasion. The use of the word ‘inappropriate’ related to a family picture may strike you as odd, but after spending no more than 45 seconds looking through the collection, you’ll completely understand.

The site is really just a blog, with periodic postings of photos that are sent in, and sometimes with a headline or brief caption. Often, the photos stand alone and need neither, but every once in a while the sheer brilliance of the caption takes something simply awkward and makes it pure genius. Again, this is something that just needs to be experienced to be fully understood. But, as an example, see this gem of a photo titled “Eye Contact”: http://tinyurl.com/yznzx57

The site features a list of Most Popular, a regular “add your own caption” contest, and a relatively new cringe-inducing feature called “Behind the Awkwardness,” where someone who is featured in the photo will attempt to explain what was going on in the minds of the participants. For example, regarding a photo of two boys in hockey gear kneeling in front of their shirtless, pregnant mother, one of the boys explains, “This is a photo of my mom, my brother, myself, and my soon to be born younger brother. A family friend talked mom into having us all pose for this photo. It went on to win some sort of award in a Newport, R.I., photo show. It also hung in our house while I was growing up, which made for some awkward moments when friends came over.”

Occasionally, the site branches out into other awkward family moments, the most infamous being the Thanksgiving Letter offering one poor family member’s complete instructions on what to bring to ‘help’ with the annual feast. After reading it, you’ll find yourself even more thankful for your own family, regardless of how dysfunctional it might be.

Still, the true heart of the site is the photos. So I encourage you, whether you need a good laugh or an uncomfortable chuckle, to swing by and take a look. Or take a peek at the collected works in the upcoming book “Awkward Family Photos” (Three Rivers Press) by site gurus Mike Bender and Doug Chernack. It comes out in May.•


Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.