It all started a month ago over lunch. Childhood friends Mike and Doug (who'd rather not divulge their last names) were swapping typically cringeworthy stories about their relatives when it dawned on them: there's something universal about the awkwardness of family. And, as Mike recalled thinking, "What better way to show that than through the family photo, something everyone can relate to." So the men trekked back to Mike's house and began Googling in earnest. "Doug found the one with the family on the tree. That was it," Mike wrote in an e-mail from his Los Angeles abode. "It was so beautifully awkward ... That was the moment we realized there might be something here." Thus, AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com was born.
The site's slogan says it all: "Spreading the Awkwardness." From uncomfortably intimate pregnancy portraits to couples striking bizarre poses, the photos elicit a baffling combination of amusement and unease. Like Postcards From Yo Momma, the site exploits (er, pays tribute to) the embarrassing moments that make us love our family enough to shame them. (See pictures of U.S. Presidents and their children.)
Though just a week old, Mike says the blog has already drawn more than 800,000 hits, in large part because a friend of his plugged it on his radio show at 94HJY in Providence, R.I. Since then, photos have been flooding in "like crazy," though, perhaps thankfully, not all of them have made the cut. "We got a submission of a photo of a mother giving a water birth. She thought it was awkward. We thought it was disturbing."
There have been regrets too: one woman asked that a photo she sent in be removed. "She said she was drunk when she submitted it and now feels bad," Mike explained. (The photo has since been taken down.) As Mike and Doug write in their mission statement: "Although this site is all about having a sense of humor, our intention is not to be mean-spirited."
As for the site's popularity, Mike says it's pretty easy to understand: "There is something kind of cathartic for people about sharing the oddness of their families. And that's what we hope the site will be a communal celebration of awkwardness."
Still, visitors should be warned. There are some photos take this one, for instance that can't be unseen.