Full disclosure, Pandas, I feel incredibly awkward most of the time when someone’s taking my picture. It’s anticipating the flash and worrying about whether I’m not looking too goofy or too serious that messes my head up. Don’t get me wrong, I adore photography, but I still don’t have the confidence to look cool in photos. Awkward, silly, though? Sign me up, I’m your guy! I’m a natural at these!
Awkward photos are somewhat of a constant on the internet and in real life. Childhood friends Mike Bender and Doug Chernack saw this and created the ‘Awkward Family Photos’ project. What started out as a simple blog back in 2009 has since then ballooned into a multi-million-member project that celebrates the most awkward, uncomfortable, cringy, and simply downright-fun photos of family moments.
We can guarantee that these photos will boost your mood and make the wait for that wonderful thing called the weekend pass in a heartbeat. As you scroll down, remember to upvote and comment on your favorite awkward family photos. And if you feel like you haven’t gotten your daily dose of Vitamin A(wkwardness) yet, feel free to check out Bored Panda’s first article about AFP right here. Tons of nostalgic awkwardness and weirdness below, let’s not keep them waiting any longer!
Mike, the co-founder of AFP, told Bored Panda that the project has, at its core, always been the same throughout the years: "A celebration of awkwardness especially as it relates to family. We are still laughing 'with' and not 'at' people. We have built a community of folks who are comfortable enough to laugh at themselves," he said.
Meanwhile, photographer Dominic Sberna gave Bored Panda his perspective about confidence in front of the camera lens, how to feel more relaxed when having your picture taken, and what professionals can do to help their subjects feel less awkward. Scroll down for his thoughts on the topic!
I Took My 2002 Senior Year Photo With My Bird, Jeff. It Made The Yearbook. Ten Years Later, I Caught Him Reflecting On Our Long History. Sentimentality In Its Truest Form
Co-founder Mike revealed to Bored Panda that the 'Awkward Family Photos' brand has been growing by focusing on some new projects that they're pursuing. One of these is their "Successful card game which now includes our first expansion pack available here!" he was happy to share.
According to Mike, they've seen the most growth on their Instagram page where they receive lots of submissions. "We have streamlined our process and brought on help so that we can look through everything we get and post the best-curated submissions. At the end of the day, our community is everything so we appreciate every photo and message," he told Bored Panda.
I was curious whether Mike had any advice on how to take 'normal' photos. However, he pointed out that the concept of 'normal' is pretty boring. "Well, we are Awkward Family Photos so we don't offer advice on taking normal photos. From our standpoint, the normal photos are boring. It's the awkward ones that reveal the most about us and our families. But in general, posing, matching outfits, and feuding families always make for glorious awkwardness so please keep it coming!"
This Old Picture Of My Great-Grandmother, Far Left, Makes It Look Like The Cameraman Just Stumbled Into A Secret Meeting Of The Grandmas
Confidence is everything. Photographer Dominic told Bored Panda that being photogenic comes down to being comfortable in one's own skin. "It's an ability to be comfortable in front of the camera and know how to make yourself look good. I think this can be self-inflicted, but also taught through many trials of being the subject," he said.
One of the tips that Dominic shared about photographers helping their subjects feel more comfortable is very simple (if not immediately obvious): "Just make them comfortable."
The more photographers engage with their subjects, the quicker they're bound to get used to being photographed. Trying to relate to the subject and their interests can yield great results. And the more relaxed the subject becomes, the more natural they'll look in the photos. Your goal here is to create an environment where people who feel stressed by cameras forget that they're even being photographed.
This Is A Picture Of My Brother. The Photographer Was Trying To Get Him To Look At The Camera And He Snapped His Fingers And Accidentally Scared My Brother- Perfect Timing
Here Is My Sister Jan’s Graduation Photo In 1968 At 18, And A Redo That We Did In 2014 At 64
"I've photographed people who were really unsure at the start, but by the end of it were pretty comfortable having their photo taken. I think if you engage in conversation on a topic that they have interest in, you'll see the subject open up more and become more comfortable, almost as if they forget they're having their photo taken."
As for the subjects themselves, photographer Dominic suggested that they try and focus on something else if they're feeling particularly nervous. "Don't think of it to be so daunting and scary. I know this is much easier said than done, but just remember it's okay to be yourself, and seeing yourself as you really are in an image can be really fun," he told Bored Panda.
"It really comes down to being comfortable in the situation. I'm not sure it's something that can be turned on or off though. Some people just inherently don't like to have their picture taken and that's their method of operation. It isn't a bad thing, but it should be respected and not forced upon anyone."
I'm A Father To A 5-Year Old. Glad I Made The Cut
I Was 45 Minutes Into Family Pictures With Two Hungry And Crabby Kiddos. Nothing Was Good. The Photographer Asked Me Five Times If I Really Wanted To Buy The Pics And I Said Absolutely Yes. This Was My Most Popular Christmas Picture Ever
This Pic Is My Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister And Her Husband, Me And My Demonic-Looking Son. This Family Portrait Was Taken In The 80s…we Were Really A Scary Crew
When you look at the ‘Awkward Family Photos’ project, the first thing that hit us is just how much fun everyone’s having. People are having a whale of a time submitting the most peculiar pics they have at home to AFP.
It might be a tad embarrassing to show someone, especially internet strangers, the silly photos we’ve got stored in our albums, but it’s also liberating. And, if you make someone else laugh and make their day a smidge better, well, that’s a bonus that makes everything worth it.
The founders of the ‘Awkward Family Photos’ project, Mike and Doug, started the AFP blog nearly 12-and-a-half years ago. It all started when Mike spotted a weird vacation photo in his parents’ house which sparked the idea to invite others to share uncomfortable family moments. They’re one of the things that we’ve got in common, no matter our status or background, dreams or desires. Silliness, I’d say, is as human as walking on two legs or browsing cat and dog pics during your lunch break.
Currently, AFP has over 2.6 million followers on Facebook and a whopping 1 million Instagram fans. Sprinkle 27k Twitter fans on top of that and you’ve got popularity for days. It’s well earned, too, as the creators constantly seem to have idea after idea on how to improve things for the better.
My Dad Used To Swing Me Around In A Tiny Garbage Can And It Was So Much Fun. I Didn’t Know It Was Weird Until I Asked Around And Found Out That No One Else’s Dads Swung Them Around In Garbage Cans
Unfortunately, It’s Me. I Took Dance In High School. Don’t Regret Taking Dance, Just The Picture
Just Thought I'd Share This Old Picture I Found Of Me And My Dad
Mike and Doug use their creativity on new projects related to AFP and have published a game about the Greatest Hits and released a party game called Cringeworthy. Keep in mind, though, the latter’s for adults only (the outrageous hilarity might be too much for the younger crowd) while the former’s a great laugh for all ages.
A year ago, my colleague, Rokas, had a great conversation with Mike, one of the co-founders of AFP, about the roots of the project and why it’s been resonating with people ever since 2009. In an in-depth interview, Mike shared with Bored Panda that he has always felt connected to awkwardness and comedy.
“As a kid, I was very aware of awkward situations. I didn't exactly want them to happen but when they did, I was excited to have a new story to tell. I think it led me to become a writer after graduating college. I wrote my first movie at age 22 called Not Another Teen Movie and continued to work as a screenwriter for about 13 years,” Mike opened up to Bored Panda.
Found This Old Picture Of My Dad From Back In 1976
The Moment My Eldest Met Her New Baby Sister
However, Mike started looking for greener pastures when the film industry started changing. He noticed that the internet provided a lot of space for creative expression and various projects. Not long after, the idea to create AFP was born.
I Photographed My Sister-In-Law’s Wedding (My Husband’s Sister). I Knew The Window Overlooked A Part Of The Hotel’s Roof, But I Didn’t Notice The Workers Until After I Snapped A Few Pictures. When I Got Home And Downloaded All The Pictures, I Couldn’t Stop Laughing When I Saw This. Lucky For Me She Has A Good Sense Of Humor And Allowed Me To Share It With You
“Around that time, in 2009, I went home to my parents' house for the weekend and saw my mother putting up what was for me an awkward family photo from my teenage years. She had framed it and was going to hang it on the wall,” Mike told Bored Panda about the origins of ‘Awkward Family Photos.’
This Is A Family Portrait From 1987. I Just Love The Contrast Of The Punk Rock Kids, Coupled With The Wholesomeness Of Mom And Daughter. It Brings A Smile To All Of Us, And We Want To Share The Photo On Your Website
That Time I Went To School As Humpty Dumpty For Nursery Rhyme Day, But Ended The Day As A Ballsack
I Asked My Parents To Do A Family Photo With Me And This Was The End Result. I’m A Very Festive Person
"I thought that was such a peculiar idea—to memorialize this awkward moment. But I also thought it was intriguing. So I met with my writing partner and friend, Doug Chernack, who I grew up with in New Jersey, and he told me that his childhood home was full of awkward family photos. And so we decided to start a website and our only hope was that if we posted our awkward pics, others would do the same."
This Beaut Of My Uncle, Aunt And Cousins Was Proudly Displayed In Their Home For Years
Here’s My Mom And Dad In September 1970. This Was Always My Favorite Photo From Their Wedding Because It’s Just So Cornball. You Have To Give Credit To The Photographer For The Picture Of My Dad In The TV. This Was Years Before Photoshop, So I’m Not Sure How The Heck He Pulled This Trick Off
The duo’s gambit paid off. Within just a week of launching the website, it took off. Mike and Doug were both surprised by the massive positive reaction. “We started receiving awkward photos from all over the world! It felt like something big was happening,” Mike said.
In September 2020, Mike noted that they receive hundreds of awkward photos each week. The co-creators try to focus on the most surprising pics, choosing to feature them front and center on their social media platforms.
My Dad (Sitting In Bench, Right) With His Rock Star Wedding Party In 1987
I Won A Cutest Baby Award At A Local Health Foods Store And This Was The Photoshoot That I Won. Thank You, Mom And Dad
We Were Trying To Get A Family Photo Including Our Two Friendly Chocolate Labs
According to Mike, the success of ‘Awkward Family Photos’ lies in its relatability: peculiar, silly, sometimes even uncomfortable photos are something many of us can deeply empathize with. “Even if it's not their family, they see their family in others and there's something comforting about knowing that you're not alone.”
This Is Of My Older Sister, Perfect In All Pictures, And Older Brother’s Gigantically Chubby Head. The Photographer Thought This Was The Best Picture Of The Whole Shoot. My Mom Thought It Was Hilarious And Horrifying, So Of Course She Bought It
My Friend Mike’s Rock Star Mullet When He Was Two Years Old In 1989 In Fairbanks, Alaska. I Think It’s One Of The Best Photos On Earth
Which of these photos did you like the most, dear Readers? Do you enjoy having your picture taken? How do you feel about showing people your family albums? Let us know in the comment section at the bottom. Oh, and if you’ve got any uncomfortable or silly pics of your own to share, you can post the photos in the comments as well.
I Made My Cat A Work From Home Set Up
For My Daughter’s 12th Birthday Party, We Made Masks Of Her Obsession, George Michael, For All Of The Little Girls. Didn’t Realize How Scary It Would Look When They Pulled Them All On At The Same Time
This Was Taken In 1990, Alberta Canada. Can You Tell My Mom Used To Do My Dad’s Hair?
Here’s My Old Breakdancing Crew, The Suburban Street Rockers, In 1985
Our Daughter Wanted To Throw Rocks Not Flowers At My Cousin’s Wedding
This Is My Family Christmas Card From 1999. I Was The Angel
My Sister Dumping Me Out Of My Stroller In 1994. This Perfectly Sums Up Our Relationship As Children
When I Was In 6th Grade, My Two Older Sisters Were Popular And Had Big Hair, And I Was An Awkward Kid So I Thought I’d Be Cool For A Day. I Went To Town On The Aquanet Hairspray. I Used Almost Half A Can To Get This Big Bang As Tall As I Could. The Photographer Literally Had To Take A Step Back To Fit My Hair In The School Photo And I Really Don’t Know How He Kept A Straight Face
This Is The Way My Mother Found My Sister Sleeping. In Her Pajamas She Has A Puppet, A Stuffed Monkey, A Stuffed Seal, Two Blankets, And A Watch
This Is My Husband And Four Children. We Asked The Kids To Sit Down With Dad To Get Their Pictures Together, But My Daughter Didn’t Want To Be In The Picture, So We Said, “Okay, Just Stay Over There.” I Started To Take The Picture And She Got Even More Upset For Being Left Out Of The Picture. As You Can See My Husband Was Also Annoyed!
Took My 3rd Son To A Photographer For His Baptism (Which Was 1 Year Late Due To Covid) And They Went A Little Over The Top With The Green Screen Backgrounds
This Was My Senior Picture And My Mom Thought It Would Be A Great Idea To Pose With Some Of My Cabbage Patch Collection Of Dolls. For Some Reason, I Decided To Go With The Sultry Look. The Rest Is History As You Can See
This Is Me With My Younger Brother, Our Grandparents, And Our Father In Hot Pants. Circa 1985, Australia
Circa 2016 At Knotts Berry Farm With My 2 Younger Daughters
My Dad (Left) Shortly After He Emigrated From The Soviet Union To Chicago In 1980. Sorry Ladies, He’s Married To My Mom
I Very Much Enjoyed Being Tucked Into A Bag And Carried Around By My Dad
This Photo Of My 6 Month Old Brother Was Taken On My Second Birthday. Apparently My Siblings Thought It Would Be Hilarious To Tie Balloons To All Of His Limbs And My Parents Were Just Like, ‘Whatever.’ He Was The Eighth Child, So I Guess By Then Nothing Mattered
My Mom’s Friend Dressed As A Clown For My Parents’ Wedding Day. Nobody Knows Why
When I Was A Senior In High School, I Was Obsessed With Mountain Dew. I Would Have Like Six A Day, Any Size. There Was Never A Time One Was Not In My Hand. So For My Senior Photos, I Thought It Was Going To Be A Great Idea To Make A Throne Of Mountain Dew To Sit On. I Went Out The Morning Of My Photos And Bought Six 24-Packs To Build My Throne. It Took Me A Few Weeks To Get Through All Of It. It’s Hilarious Now Because I Don’t Drink Mountain Dew Anymore
Note: this post originally had 88 images. It’s been shortened to the top 50 images based on user votes.