The first question that usually comes into our heads when cruising the shots on Awkward Family Photos is "Who on Earth thought that was a good idea?"

That was the first question we asked when we found ourselves on the phone with Laurel Sparks, who, along with her dad and three siblings, is the cover model for the "Awkward Family Photos book," by website creators Mike Bender and Doug Chernack.

She passed the buck, just like we'd have done if it'd been us who were immortalized on film decked out head-to-toe in denim with a shaved head and lying atop our entire family.

"It was a combination of the photographer and my stepmom who came up with it," Sparks told Asylum before a family reunion -- during which the attending members of the clan agreed once more to pile on Dad to recreate the 1997 shot that made them Internet-famous.

"My stepmom saw some images of the photographer's work that were of kids lying on top of their parents like that, and I guess she just thought that it would translate," Sparks said.

And, while the difference between a photo of a parent with a small child on top of him and one of four grown children dressed in matching denim all stacked on top of their father is obvious to objective viewers like us, it wasn't quite as clear to the Sparks family.

Keep reading for more info and the new shot.


"A friend of mine saw the photo at a dinner party and sent it in [to Awkward Family Photos]," Sparks, who teaches painting at the university level, explained. "And it became really popular. When the Rachael Ray show called to see if we could come on, I had to call up my family and explain why it was on the site. My stepmom didn't understand why it was awkward. She thought it was cute."

Sparks herself, of course, labored under no such delusion.

"My ex saw it once and grabbed a copy, which is how my friend found it," she laughed. "I knew exactly how weird it was. I don't spend a whole lot of time wearing denim outfits like that."

Even though Sparks herself has become so closely identified with Awkward Family Photos -- and understands firsthand how someone can end up participating in one -- that doesn't stop her from questioning the choices of her fellow awkward families.

"I loved the website before I ever ended up on it," she told Asylum, "And there are some photos that I can't really imagine how they ended up like that. I'm hoping that most people on the site know how ridiculous the pictures are."

Still, at this point, Sparks' family has come to accept -- and embrace -- its status as the most awkward of awkward families ever photographed. For the new shoot, Sparks explained, "The stack is shorter and modified due to an incarceration, hernia and the frailty of aging." (But at least they're all still wearing blue jeans.)

Got a favorite Awkward Family Photo you want the story behind? Let us know in the comments.