The magic of the family photograph lies in its flaws, and the curatorial team at website Awkward Family Photos has reminded us of this fact by collecting and cataloguing all of our charming photographic failings and reminding us that for every perfect chiclet smile, there’s a disgruntled side-eye or a bad haircut. The online collection is a testament to the bonds of family, and each accident betrays the touching vulnerability of each relationship.
The family photo album is a fragile, private thing; when made public, these images constitute a powerful and uncomfortable archive of American tradition and cultural shifts. While a photograph of mother, son, and daughter dressed to the nines in shoulder-padded polka-dots and acid wash jeans might have been swell in the ’80s, it serves now as a painful and permanent reminder of our fleeting coolness and relevance. In one image, a young man seductively holds a live snake; in a similarly embarrassing assertion of power within the family, a father superimposes himself over a cheesy portrait with now-outdated technology.
As family structures and fashion choices continue to shift, Awkward Family Photos is a visual historical narrative worthy of being preserved. And it will have its moment of glory in an upcoming exhibition at Santa Monica’s California Heritage Museum. The collection is to be arranged and hung in accordance with the following categories: “Family Portrait, Siblings, Vacation, Kids, Holidays, Weddings, Dad, Mom, Grandparents, Birthdays, and Family Pet.”
Exhibition goers will be invited to sit for their own portraits, which are to be added to the collection. This refreshing series is about embracing the awkward within us all; through each image, there are clear hints of love, charm, and unabashed playfulness. (via My Modern Met)