Friday, January 21, 2011

Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack

I think I know these people. Though I am not actually in Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, I might as well be. I knew lots of discomfort and embarrassment in my youth and adolescence. You, too? (Of course, we have been models of sophistication and good taste since we grew up.)

I first noticed Awkward Family Photos on display at Prairie Lights Book Store in Iowa City and might have read the whole thing while standing there if I had not had a concert to attend. The book drawn from a website by the same name is filled with cringe-inducing images. Some of the "best" (should that be "worst?) from the web are gathered in chapters in this book, including "The Family Portrait," "Mom and Dad," Vacation," and "Weddings." Many need no comment, but Bender and Chernack usually put some witty words below the pictures. They also include some notes sent by the submitters. These tell stories that I think I'd want to forget but which are surely unforgettable to witnesses.

The photos are not dated, but I guess they range across the last half-century, making them a sort of history of baby boomer life. They show the worst clothes, hairdos, wallpaper, furniture, and camera techniques of the time. While these may make you cringe, it is the facial expressions and strange postures that will make you gasp. Poor people. (Better them than me.)

Bender, Mike and Doug Chernack. Awkward Family Photos. Three Rivers Press, 2010. ISBN 9780307592293.

1 comment:

Pam said...

OMG! I am going to hunt this one down the next time I'm at Barnes and Noble. Would it be in the humor section?