For that tight-knit group who are so close, they are literally on top of one another. For maximum comfort, go denim.
Remember that photo? From that holiday when you were 12? The one where your "puppy fat" is pushing forcibly at your lime green dungarees, your dad’s doing that ‘muscle man’ pose and your mum's attempting to flirt with the camera? The chances are you’ve suppressed that memory as deeply as possible, but if you fancy reveling in the pain of others to ease your suffering, then look no further than Awkward Family Photos.
Mike Bender and Doug Chernack are the guys behind the concept, which began as a website, has just been transformed into a book, and is fast developing into a global phenomenon.
“It snowballed,” said Mike, “right from the start. Obviously on the first day we got, you know, ten hits. Second day, maybe thirty. But then people started forwarding it on to one another. Our friend was a radio DJ, he started talking about it. By the end of our first week we’d had over one million hits. It was insane.”
Like so many great ideas, the concept couldn't be simpler. Awkward Family Photos – it more or less does what it says on the tin. And the secret to its success is equally simple – everyone can relate to the occasionally sublime, often terrifying and always ridiculous photographs.
“It was my mom, actually, who started the whole thing,” Mike continued. “She hung up this awful photo from our holiday. But then when Doug saw it, straight away he was like ‘I have so many of these!’”
“So we put together a site,” said Doug, “just a basic blog, we didn’t know too much about the websites at that point. We had Mike’s photo, some photos of my family, and a couple others that we found online. That’s how it started.”
“The photographs are celebratory, and I think that’s important,” said Mike. “We’re laughing at the awkwardness, but we love the people. We couldn’t have done it without them.” But they’ve certainly done it – both are screenwriters in Los Angeles, and on the strength of Awkward Family Photos they now have a TV show of the same name in development with ABC.
So where next? Given the popularity of both the site and the book, presumably the submissions keep rolling in? “We get around 200 a day,” confirms Doug. “So far, we’ve had 80,000 submissions”. Amongst those, a few of the images have inspired a brand new project. “You see that photo with the dog?” says Mike. “As soon as you introduce animals, it just changes everything. A whole different type of awkwardness.”
And thus the next stage of their project has become clear. Awkward Family Pet Photos has launched, and is already making an impression online. A book will surely follow. And until then? “We’ve still got a lot more family photos to look through.” Says Mike. “I think people have responded to what we’re doing, and really raised the bar. We’ve got awkwardness of a better quality than ever before.” we can’t wait.
He's the understudy.
Awkward Family Photos is available now, priced at £12.99.