Doug Chernack and Mike Bender came up with the idea of posting comical family photos online in May 2009, and were amazed at how quickly it became popular.
The Awkward Family Photos
website is now visited by people all over the world.
“The idea came about when Mike was visiting his parent's house and noticed an awkward vacation photo that his mom had hung in their house” said Doug. “He and I were at lunch a few days later and when he told me about the photo. I told him that I had plenty of pictures like that too.
“It dawned on us that if we had these types of photos, everybody must have them so we set out to create a community where people could feel comfortable submitting their own uncomfortable family photos.”
He said that they were pretty clueless about what they were doing at first, as they had never done anything online before.
They simply hoped that friends would let others know and they would get a few submissions to keep their site going.
A few days after they set up the site, Mike sent the web address to a friend who worked at a Rhode Island radio station. His friend put it on the station’s web site, and soon others on the same network (Clear Channel) picked up the link.
They went from a few hits a day to more than a million during the first week.
There are now between 150 and 200 photos being submitted every day, with about five percent being posted on the site.
Because they were receiving so many pet photos, Awkward Family Pet Photos
was launched in July, 2010.
“We're working on our next book which will be Awkward Family Pet Photos,” said Doug. “We have a calendar and a line of greeting cards scheduled to be released next year and we're still posting new photos on both sites every day.”
He and Mike still have their day jobs, as screenwriters, and although the site is almost another full time job, they say they are having so much fun with it they don’t mind the extra work.
“ABC bought the rights to the book and a script is being written now,” said Doug. “It will be a humourous look at family incorporating the themes of awkward family photos.”
He said right now his favourite photo is one called Roadside Assistance, because it is one of the strangest pregnancy photos that has been submitted. In the photo, a man leans on a tire as he looks into the eyes of a pregnant woman who appears to be wearing only panties.
When trying to describe why he feels the site has been so successful he says: “Hopefully, it makes people laugh; and I think people see a little bit of themselves and their own families in the photos.”