20 Family Photos That Have Wondering What They Were Thinking

All families have their moments of weirdness. It used to be that awkward family pictures were just hanging around in frames waiting for an innocent passerby to walk into one's home and say, I have one too!

Thanks to the internet, awkward family photos are everywhere. Entire websites have made these pictures their central theme, and they've made many of us feel better about the familial tensions forever captured by a camera.

The tension we can feel in some of these pictures is so apparent that some psychologists have taken to writing about awkward family photos. Some people may simply be uncomfortable in front of a camera. Still, the body language in some of these pictures is so stiff in some cases, it's hilarious! Despite this, we cry a single for humanity on their behalf.

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20 Well plaid, family


Judging by the father's glasses, we can guess that this picture wasn't taken in this decade (or century). This picture brings up a lot of questions. It's clear that some of the children in the image are at least pre-teens. This is usually the age at which kids start asserting their fashion choices.

The mother also seems a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera as if thinking, "This will be over soon. Hang in there." We give her kudos for the lovely ruffled blouse, which is unfortunately hidden from view thanks to her vest.

We're asking ourselves if these plaid concoctions were custom made. If so, why isn't the father wearing a vest? It seems he got the best fashion deal as his tie could pass for normal at a 20th-century office job. In fact, he looks like the inspiration for the character of Sergio in Netflix's Money Heist.

In fairness, this awkward family photo reminds us of a bygone era. Gone are the days when families would dress up, go to their nearest department store in droves and pay an actual photographer for an annual family photo. We have phones for that now, and a phone is probably how this wound up on the internet too.

19 Let's cover all of our bases

Via Flashbak

The baseball shirt is a timeless American classic. Thanks to its comfort and versatility, it's used in a variety of non-sports related scenarios. This just happens to be one of the most awkward ones.

We're not sure whose idea it was to label everyone this way and we wonder if they ever used those shirts again in public. The precious thing about this picture is that it's only awkward thanks to these custom shirts. They otherwise look quite happy together. They seem not to exhibit much of the tension often captured in these photos. The parents just look as if they need to get comfortable in front of the camera, but that's it.

With a bit more confidence at the time of taking the picture, this would've turned out slightly less awkward. But we can't take back decisions like this after they've been made. Especially when they'll be around forever.

Looking at this picture we see that it never crossed anyone's mind that this family would ever become internet-famous thanks to a simple fashion choice. Though a naive decision, we're glad this exists. It proves that everyone allows someone in their family to capture their strange choices on the camera for posterity.

18 'Tis the season

Via imgur

The holidays are a nice season. We get to eat delicious food, go shopping, and spend time with family. Unfortunately for some of us, it means letting someone in said family talk us into a picture for an awkward Christmas card. That's what happened here. Someone tried to be adorable in front of the camera and decided four Santas are greater than one. Now we've got an interesting idea from 2017 plastered all over social media.

Dressing up as Santa sounds adorable if it's Christmas morning and you want to make some children feel like deserve the extra attention.

On the upside, the adults in the picture can have their cake and eat it too. It's hard to tell who they may be, which means that no one can use this picture against them. Unless their sleuthing skills can rival a spy. On a positive note, the baby looks totally adorable and seems to be the only individual who sort of knows what's up. At the very least, we're sure everyone who received this picture got a nice laugh out of this. After all, it's not every holiday that you get a funny card in the mail from four Santas. We just want to know why no one thought at least one of them should be an elf.

17 Conform with the uniform

These uniforms look like they were influenced by some strange sci-fi film sometime in the 1980s. We can't tell if they belong to a fantasy film or TV show, and the child on the right looks the way we currently feel. There's also no way to tell if this was a Halloween costume that was trendy whenever this picture was taken. We can imagine the conversation before the decision was made went down like this:

Dad: "Look at these cool outfits! We're going to have an amazing picture."

Mom: "Suuuuure, whatever you say!"

Kids: ...

And off they went to the photographer's studio, or to find someone with a camera. A decision was made to take the picture against a background that made the orange suits stand out just so. The rest was history. One interesting detail about this uniform is the design in the nether region. Someone actually took the time to make a uniform inspired by overlooked 1980s sci-fi and add this detail.

No worries, though. Wearing this in public was the modern equivalent of wearing crocs in public today. Yes, it's a bit awkward-looking, but at least they must have been comfortable as they took this picture. If not, then these kids deserve a really good prize for good behavior.

16 This photo is getting peels of laughter from me

Via Reddit

Some awkward pictures are the result of dysfunction showing up on the camera through subtle body language. This picture took so much coordination and strength that we're wondering what photographer agreed to take it. Everyone is flashing their best smile. We sense a small distress signal. However, we're wondering how everyone at the bottom felt and how they were able to accomplish this pose without keeling over. A part of us is also wondering if they're smiling in order to make themselves feel better about having to be a part of this balancing act.  The real champ in this picture is probably the mother.

Moms work hard to make us who we are.

Though there's almost nothing they wouldn't do for us, we can't expect them to take strange pictures with us as adults. We hope she got a relaxing massage to soothe her back. She already carried her kids once! The picture is awkward enough without any other context. But who thought it would be funny to cut it up and put it next to a banana? We must divulge that this is a picture of an awkward picture. The photo's placement only makes it more likely to be shared on social media. This way the rest of us can at least revel in the fact that our awkward family photos required no acrobatic skills.

15 She was framed

Via Reddit

The thing about going to college and moving out is that you can't always make it to every family function. This can be a boon for younger siblings who suddenly get more parental attention. According to the Reddit user who uploaded this picture, his older sister couldn't make it to the family photo session that day.

His mother, being the kind woman she seems to be, wanted to include her at all costs. The weird part is that the sister looks the least awkward in this photo. Everyone else seems quietly conscious that this is a silly idea. Of course, this picture is from 2002. Back in those days, not everyone had access to the photo editing software necessary to trick the eye a bit better. We now have Photoshop and other programs that let us make such results a bit less awkward.

We might be cringing on the inside thanks to the stiffness of this picture, but at least the mom was being sweet about this entire affair. Notice the kid on the right though. He's obviously trying to contain his reaction to the slight ridiculousness of this idea. We congratulate him on keeping his composure—and for being the one who posted this online.

14 This family isn't gonna feel winded anytime soon

Via Reddit

Where do we begin with this one? We can provide an educated guess about when this picture was taken because these jackets were very popular in the late '80s/early '90s. This picture isn't just awkward, it also exhibits several fashion trends from that era. We see the haircuts that resemble something from the 1980s, as they morph into something the '90s can manage. Things were much subtler in the '90s as people started opting for flatter hair. We also see the neon patterns of yore.

It seems a lot of people saw famous sitcoms and decided they too should remain inspired by some of the crazy prints from the '90s.

Most family members seem happy to be taking this picture. If we focus closely we can see the mother slightly cringing. Perhaps she had the foresight to notice the awkwardness of this picture. We cringe along with her. However, this picture brings up a few precious memories from a bygone era. This was a time when people often bought wallet-sized versions of these pictures so they could carry them around or even give them away. Humanity now collectively amasses them on the internet. Makes you kinda miss the old days, right?

13 This family's got a stiff sense of humor

Via Myria

The glasses and hairstyles in this classic picture let us know it was taken in the 1950s or 1960s. Because awkward family pictures were a thing even back then. The facial expressions in this picture remind us of a more modern take on the American Gothic painting by Grant Woods. The intention of most family pictures is to show togetherness. This picture certainly shows us a family that sulks together. Everyone looks equally surprised to be in a room with a flashing light that's about to capture their expressions for good.

One psychologist suggested that pictures such as this are awkward because we share genes with the individuals in the photograph. Caring so much about someone suggests that any competitiveness in the family could be visible in photos. Children who feel other siblings get more attention may exhibit this discomfort. The favorite child; however, might also express increased confidence. Uneven interactions, strange fashion choices, and the overall stiffness of being in a room with people you see every day may result in increased awkwardness.

This picture from an earlier epoch thus causes us to cringe because families are displaying how weird it is to be in a photo session with people you normally see in their pj's. Huh.

12 A family with fighting spirit

Here's a family that decided they wanted a family photo while also trying to show the world they can defend themselves. Even the background gives off the calm vibes of a dojo. Though it's hard to tell what level of training this family might have, it's clear they have a black belt in taking hilarious family portraits. We must also think of the positive attributes of martial arts. The family probably takes discipline seriously. Everyone looks completely focused, and this actually adds to the awkwardness. A family that fights together stays together, right?

There's also the fact that this picture looks like it was taken in the 1980s or 1990s.

Films such as The Karate Kid and The Three Ninjas were popular back then. Perhaps this picture is the result of watching such films and wanting to do something cool. Newsflash: if you're going to try to take a picture using martial arts as a motif, it helps to have the right form. Not wearing sunglasses (or glasses of any kind) would be a big help in trying to look the part. We're assuming that if this wound up on the internet, someone in the picture decided to make us all feel better.

11 We'll be on the skins team

Devarshi Steven Hartman

When it comes to family, people have a different threshold of what they consider to be too much togetherness. This picture shows that in some families, some people are very comfortable with each other. While this can be helpful in some ways, not everyone wants to know just how open some families can be with other.

Now, there are some people who are comfortable baring it all in front of the camera. They just don't usually do this with their siblings. The tone of this picture is strange because it's hard to tell what they're going for here. The ties and towels show a desire for modesty. So we're not sure what they were trying to accomplish with baring it all but not at least smiling during the picture. The hairstyles also remind us of computer geeks or people with regular office jobs.

There's a chance that this concept seemed cool back when this picture was taken, but we can't tell what would have influenced it. Still, taking a picture like this knowing that someone will have to look at it someday is kind of brave. Perhaps this group of brothers is trying to make us all feel comfortable in our own skin. It's not exactly working, but it's a good try.

10 What can I say? He's a pain in the neck

Via Komando

Where do we begin with this picture? It looks like an outtake from a photo shoot that was meant to be more serious. Someone must have looked at this funny picture and decided it would be better to share this online instead of an ordinary picture. This photo has all the classic elements of an awkward family photo. The father looks as if he's trying to ignore his older son pretend to suffocate his younger son. The daughter is attempting to ignore this situation while also trying to hide her embarrassment in typical teenage fashion.

Of course, the oldest brother is happy about his handiwork.

Meanwhile, the youngest child in the picture has no choice but to kind of sit while deciding if he should laugh or try to run. It's hard to tell if this is the family's regular dynamic or if this was just them on a bad day. What we can say is we're glad one of them decided to share this strange portrait with the world. Does this photo make us cringe for humanity? Yes. However, it also reminds us that a bit of awkwardness can unite people. This collective embarrassment does have the potential to make the world a better place.

9 The height of luxury

If there's one thing you can say about this family is that they're decisive when it comes to choosing a color palette. Though each child has a different outfit, the blues, whites, and blacks are actually a big fashion statement. This suggests that these kids' parents somehow succeeded in making the children agree on these colors—a feat unto itself. It also indicates that they're a united family front. So why is this awkward? Probably because the children's smiles show that they're being compliant with the photographer's instructions, but they're growing restless.

We also cringe because anyone with a sibling has taken *this exact picture* with them according to height.

We all remember how our parents had to bribe us to try to wear matching outfits (though as previously mentioned, these parents skirted that tradition in a genius way). We all remember how photographers would try to tell us jokes and wave us down while doing their best to hide their exasperated expressions. Though it's hard to tell who was the first parent that came up with this pose, whoever saw it first probably thought it was cute. Now, we all have a picture like this with our siblings or cousins somewhere around the house.

8 Phone a friend to help with this photo

Via imgur

Cell phones were once a boxy chunk of plastic that could've been used for self-defense when they were first invented. Some of these look like they require a phone case that's about the same size as a shoebox. In the early '90s, a cell phone was the mark of someone who worked a tough corporate job. They were for people who were so tough and important they needed to receive a phone call about something important at any time. This family was clearly ahead of its time in how they embraced technology.

These parents probably coerced their children into holding a cell phone so they can look more adult.

This picture is awkward in how it shows how parents once had to teach kids what to do with a phone. Today's parents probably can't get their kids off the phone long enough to take a picture in front of an actual camera. Plus, the little girl in the picture looks a bit frightened. We'd also be frightened if we were expected to take a picture with a phone that's bigger than our faces. Kudos to this modern family for taking their awkwardness at face value and giving it a new twist.

7 Even the dog throws shade

Pets are part of the family, which means they too end up in awkward family pictures. After all, you wouldn't leave out your grandma. Why leave out the dog? There's also the added fact that humans love making animals and items anthropomorphic. This often results in hilarious pictures of family pets. Some awkward family pictures that look strange because of body language cues.

This family os being awkward though. In fact, the picture seems orchestrated to look this way as some sort of self-prank. Genius! The dog looks great, though.

Plus, the sunglasses hide any strange looks we may privy to if they had not been on. Plus, the family succeeded in giving their loyal dog a very human look. The polka dots also give the family members a dog-like look because they're reminiscent of the spots you see on Dalmatians. You can also tell the family is genuinely smiling, as is their dog. The thing is, even a carefully planned family picture reminds us of awkward moments spent in harsh lights. The picture is so carefully curated it looks like the cover of a family musical album. But hey, we do commend them for trying to make coordinated family photos look more adorable.

6 The pug life chose them

On the other hand, here's a family photo shoot with pets that has us crying at least two tears for humanity. This couple has cool tattoos and the photograph is a great vehicle for showing them off. The hipster glasses are also a nice touch. The color palette also suggests the couple is trying to match their pugs' fur. It's difficult to tell why they all look so uncomfortable though. The pugs look like they're suffering and could become the face of a new "NOPE" meme. If they could talk they'd probably ask their human, "What were you thinking? What if this ends up in an unforeseen location like the internet?"

Thankfully, they're hanging around like the loyal puppies they are.

As for the dynamics around the couple, we can't tell if they just feel weird about being in front of the camera. We can all agree that coordinated outfits make couples look like they're trying too hard. This is the case for everything in life that doesn't require a uniform. Still, this picture forces us to smile at the strange tension between the two. There's a strange equivalent of confidence and desire to finish taking the picture as soon as possible.

5 "Be our guest?" "Ah, no thanks. I'm good."

Via StarPulse

Belle had a wonderful heart and eventually tamed the Beast, but she'd for sure run from this replica. Why, you ask? Well, there's just something about this particular Beast that's disconcerting. Sure, this Halloween picture looks pure and it's a great attempt at making the kids happy. Plus, it celebrates the start of the holiday season in the United States. Still, we'd fire whoever did the Beast's make-up! Though the kids look perfectly happy to indulge in a great Disney tale, we're surprised they weren't terrified of the Beast!

The teeth are true to the character, but when done in this manner they make us feel as if this is a mishmash of the Beast and a vampire tale.

This is the type of picture that makes a cute memory and gives people something to laugh about years later. The rest of us look at this and focus on a greying Beast that could also appear in a future Dracula film. It's quite nice of the dad to do something his kids would enjoy though. Even if it means putting himself on blast for the sake of a better family picture. Our eyes still focus on him, but you can feel free to call us superficial.

4 No stars, just stripes

Waiting for Santa with milk and cookies is an American as it gets. This family is obviously eager to make a charming memory and while making their children happy. It's nice of the parents to be willing to dress up like candy canes just to make this picture happen. The one thing we can all agree on is that you're going to take an awkward family picture, you should be comfortable in the process. There are plenty of people who would be fine with wearing these striped outfits as pajamas. They'd want to avoid wearing this in public though.

Why does this picture make us a cringe a little?

Most people in this family are staring at something other than the camera. Plus, there's always something disconcerting about seeing people wear matching outfits on purpose. This is especially true since most people go painstakingly out of their way not to look like someone else. There's actual psychology around why dressing up like an S.O. isn't healthy. That's probably why it's so weird to see entire families dressed up in matching outfits. If you live with someone and have their DNA, you usually try to assert your independence. These kids were kind to go with this get-up though.

3 Living in a grey scale

To this family's credit, there's a reason why people in older photos never smiled. People didn't start smiling in photographs until after the 1920s or 1930s. One theory of this was that cameras took a long time to capture a person's image. Smiling for more than one minute would have been uncomfortable. Another theory is that dental services weren't as great back then, and some people were ashamed of their teeth. Whatever the case, at least this family has a legitimate excuse for why they're exhibiting such awkwardness.

We're unsure if this is because of the way the picture was developed, but something is strange about this family's eyes.

Were they looking at some ghost that we can't see? Did the photographer tell them to do that? We'll never know. We can definitely give this family points for their dapper style. Though it must have been uncomfortable for children, people back in the day had style. At least this family can say they took one of the first awkward pictures in history. Hey, if you're going to make humanity a bit uncomfortable then be a master at awkward pictures! No one back then thought people would care about their family pictures. Boy, were they wrong.

2 A memorable side-eye indeed

From the looks of this picture, the 1980s was a simpler time. Beards were just beards, and they weren't the hipster fashion statements we consider them to be today. Farah Fawcett (and her wannabes) were totally in. We can see that mom's hair was a gravity-defying statement. Plus, we give her kudos for the nude lip look. That's always been a classic. The most epic part of this is the young daughter. She knows perfectly well that sitting in pictures like this at a department store is a total waste of time.

It's difficult to ascertain how aware she was of her comedic statement, but we're here for it.

There's a chance that this picture might be less awkward thanks to her epic side eye. Like many other pictures in this scenario, we can only ask ourselves what the father was looking at. The generic background and parents' matching outfits add to the awkwardness. Many adults who formerly had awkward pictures with their families are probably wondering why they didn't pull a side-eye like this when they had the chance. Let's admit it: a lot of us feel good about ourselves just commiserating over the stiffness in this photograph. We do.

1 This creepy scenario

We already know what the mastermind of this photograph was thinking. "Let's a picture with lighting that is reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather!" Although everyone is attempting to portray familial love in the picture, we see something totally different. Now, we know the parents in this picture love each other. They're just trying too hard to let the world know.

The father looks like he's about to eat the mother, or like he's hiding an ominous plan. The mother looks as if she's onto him and has an equally malevolent plan of her own to stop him. Plus, softer lighting would probably have gone a long way.

There's also the fact that their children as smiling innocently, totally unaware that their parents look like a robotic version of themselves. This looks like a movie poster about a family with issues, and not necessarily a happy family moment. The good thing about pictures is that they only take a while to complete. It's just too bad that the photographer didn't warn this family against making their darling family picture look like something out an Italian-American mobster film. In the end, everyone here looks of age and could have raised their voice. Instead, someone decided to share it with the internet.

References: wglt.org, flashbak.com, imgur.com, imgur.com, Reddit.com, Reddit.com, Reddit.com, komando.com, justsomething.co, justsomething.co, myria.com, leslietarabella.com, sobadsogood.com, lifewithdogs.tv, turpenoff.com, starpulse.com, christmas-newyears-quotes.com, memecenter.com, huffingtonpost.ca, thedailytop.com, knox.edu, listforus.net, artic.edu, io9.gizmodo.com, huffingtonpost.com.au, time.com

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