My Awkward Family Photos

IMG_0314Recently the NBC Nightly News invited viewers to submit their best awkward family photos, which they’ve been adding to their Facebook page. Of course, there’s already an entire website, Awkward Family Photos, devoted to such photos, and they’ve been doing it since 2009.

Well, I have my own awkward pictures, too. After all, my father was the king of taking off-kilter photographs of his brood. Ironically, by profession he had been a fearless cartographer, taking aerial shots of the topography of Venezuela from propeller planes. But after settling down and moving to New York, he refocused his knack for landscape photography on us.

He was constantly taking photos of us, using his Rolleiflex Camera and trusty tripod. Like the paparazzi, we never knew where he’d pop up in our lives with camera in hand, making us pose time and again, until we were completely and unequivocally miserable from having to endure hours of endless photo sessions.

I actually remember taking the photo below. It was right after dinner and we were anxious to go back outside and play with our friends on the street. But my father made us pose forever and it was sheer torture, especially because he was using lights that stood eight feet tall on either side of him, and they were blinding. It’s a wonder I could keep my eyes open.  Besides, this is probably one of the few photos that exists in which I look cute in my boy clothes hand-me-down’s.


Ralph, me & MichaelThe photo below was taken somewhere in the area of New York’s Central Park. And yes, this is how my mother would dress us whenever we’d spend a day in the city. Who knows why I have such a simpleton smile on my face. My brothers fare no better.



Even going to an amusement park–albeit, an educational one like Freedomland USA–couldn’t get us to crack a smile. Check out those pants on my oldest brother. Talk about high-waisted.

Ralph, Michael, Me, Freedomland 1961

Can I get a “Bless you?” And why’s that backside sticking out of my brother’s head?? Sigh.

Christmas early 1960s

No matter how annoying all the picture-taking was at the time, today I’m grateful my father took the time to capture every minutiae of our childhood. When he passed away, we each ended up with several photo albums, chock full of memories. Some photos are quite good. And then there are the awkward ones. Sigh.

So how about you? Got any strange family photos you’d rather forget about–the kind that have tormented you throughout most of your adult life?




43 thoughts on “My Awkward Family Photos

  1. Our parents always had us facing the sun. There is no glare on the photographs, that much they had figured out. But we are squinting in every single shot, sometimes with our hands over our eyes. Awkward indeed. Love your pictures.

  2. My mom always took the dreaded photo that went in her holiday cards. We would have to get dressed up and sit still for what seemed like hours on a Saturday afternoon. She hoped she would get one that was presentable. The older I got the worse I looked in those photos.

    • I know what you mean, Savvy. These days, I’m not keen on being captured for posterity. Why can’t we retain our childhood cuteness forever? Ten good years of looking cute. That’s about all many of us get. Oh well.

  3. These are delightful, Monica . . . And on the scale of awkward photos, I’m hoping the one of me as a very awkward teenager with a smile that crinkled my face is forever gone — even if it’s imprinted in my brain.

  4. At first glance, I thought the photos weren’t all that awkward. Then, I looked at the second photo again and the eldest brother is none to happy about being a subject for your dad’s new profession. Then, I get to the last photo and I got to wondering, ‘Now, who told Monica to tuck in at that age?’ You’re definitely the star of that photo. A diva in the making, okay?

    • Posing for these photos was pure torture. Had my father lived, he and his camera would’ve made a great way to torture the terrorists. He’d be forcing them to pose for hours. Pretty soon, they’d be confessing rather than have to endure my father’s slow process and flash. OMG, the flash back then was blinding. I still have spots in my eyes from it.

      Not sure who told me to tuck it in, Totsy. Probably my mother. But that sneeze wasn’t going to wait for any photo. Boy it must’ve been a doozy!

  5. I’m with Cappy…..the nude in the back ground sticking out behind your brothers head is just too much. So funny. Great photos. Love it.

    • My poor brother. There were two nudes in that same style, but different poses and no matter how many times we moved, we always managed to take them with us and display them in the living room, creating many an awkward photo.

      • My birthday was absolutely fantastic. We went to a drag show (so much fun!!) and then the bars at midnight for a few hours. There was a moderate amount of drinking, haha, because I have a very low tolerance and by the end of the night was pretty nicely tipsy. It was basically exactly how I wanted it to be 🙂 xoxox

      • A couple of years ago I spend my birthday at a drag show. OMG, what fun that was. It was a drag show brunch. All the Mimosa’s you could drink while enjoying one queen after another belting out joyful, tuneful songs. At the end they invited all the folks celebrating birthdays on to the stage. What a blast!

  6. Monica, you crack me up! Yes, I can TOTALLY relate to awkward family photos. I’m glad my folks were “afraid” of the camera and didn’t record every single second of our lives, but the ones they did take are real gems. Usually, my eyes are closed, and we had to be threatened (coaxed!) to even sit together — because like as not, we’d been fighting when the camera came out, ha! Thanks for a stroll down Memory Lane. By the way, which one did you send to NBC??

    • Debbie, as it turned out, I didn’t send any to NBC. I thought about it, but I figured posting them here for all my pals to see, would be better. And, from the response, I’m glad I did it this way!

  7. Family photos are the best! You and your brothers are cute no matter what expression your dad happened to catch. Love Love Love your hat and coat in the first one. 🙂

  8. As soon as I saw the title of this post in my inbox, I knew it was going to be a GREAT one! I love family photos, and though I had heard of the website, I had never visited it. The one your dad took of you after and dinner and before play is absolutely precious! Oh, my–how darling you were! I should try something similar. Fun, fun post.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Thanks, Kathy. Despite the way it turned out, that photo you like is one of my favorites. My brothers look like dorks, but I think it captured me well. Sure, my barrette is falling out, but what a smile. I loved those years in Queens. After all, we were footloose and fancy free!

    • I was far from being a tomboy, though I did love playing with my brothers. We’d play astronaut, cowboys and Indians, and stuff like that. When we were exhausted, we’d fall into a heap and read our stack of Mad magazines or watch Abbott and Costello films on TV. Boy, those were the days, huh? When I wasn’t playing with them, you could find me playing “house” (though my brother made a great “baby”) and playing Barbies. How I loved my dolls!

  9. These are hysterical. We’re they hung in your house? But they are also very sweet and cute, so glad you shared! I have to go look through some of my albums and see what jewels are there! Thanks for sharing!

    • My father would take several photos at a time, of course. So there are better versions of his photos. Those in which he got lucky because we all happened to be smiling with our eyes open. A rare occurrence, true, but it happened just the same. I have tons of photos framed and hanging all over my home. I started doing that right after my mother died. It was my way of keeping her with me, filling my house with pictures of her and us kids. Since my father was taking the pictures, I don’t have too many of him.

  10. I love these photos and the fact that you’ve kept them all these years! I’m sure there are many lurking in my mother’s closet!

  11. I love these, how cute all of you were. I do love the second one the best because I suspect it is how you actually looked most often.

    My father, he did the same thing and I have boxes of photos as well. Some I have posted others, well I am still sorting and scanning. This might be a project of years.

    • Yep, Val, that’s what I wore around the house and neighborhood. Of course, as you can see, when we went out, I was dressed to the 9’s and I loved my girly outfits. 😉

  12. Super post Monica.

    I have many family photographs I would rather forget, but my mother hangs onto them. I think all families have them.

    But of course it’s not only photographs is it, my mother has just moved into an assisted living complex and we had a sort out of her stuff, and ignoring the 30 year old wallpaper in a box we find that she still has my first pair of shoes, my first school report and my first ever payslip when I first started work back in 1973.

    After reading your post I will have a gig through the old pictures and see what I cash find, I reckon they may not all be a pretty sight!!!

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