20+ Church Directory Photos From The Cutting Room Floor

A church directory is like a phone book for everyone who attends a church. Families submit their contact info and a photograph and the church publishes and distributes it. The directory is supposed to let parish members easily get in touch, but it’s also an opportunity for the whole church to learn just how odd your family is.

Was your family ever given the silent treatment at coffee hour? Did your minister ever avoid eye contact and run the other way when he saw you? It’s probably because you took a bad church directory photo. (You might think I’m generalizing, but no. I’ve interviewed everyone you went to church with, and that’s what they all said. Sorry.)

Over the years, people have been sending us their church directory photo misfires, along with their memories of what went wrong as the photo was being taken. And a lot can go wrong, from grouchy kids, to incompetent photographers, to appearances by iconic sci-fi characters. At least one of these photos was even deemed unusable for the directory!

And now, let’s all rejoice in some church-related awkwardness. Amen.

1. The Dark Side

“My family was asked to bring their favorite item to a Unitarian church photoshoot. I brought a flip phone, my father a guitar, and my 8-year-old brother his Darth Vader mask. He refused to take the photo without it.” – Zoe

2. Sunday Funday

“I was unhappy to be wearing a dress, my little sister was busy picking her nose, and my little brother was just an unhappy camper.” – Leigh

3. Shorts Story

“Dad was sure the church photo would only be taken from the waist up.” – Becky

4. Camo

“One of our tries for our church directory portrait a number of years ago. Let’s say this was NOT the one we ended up using.” – Ann

5. Making Faces

“I’m the one making the ridiculous face. These were for the church directory and the photographer kept saying: ‘everyone smile now!’ And I kept making silly faces. My mom was so mad when she saw them! This one was the most normal of the bunch.” – Rachel

6. Over And Out

“I’m about 3 in this picture. From an early age, I was already over it.” – Jessica

7. On A Pedestal

“While I was away at college my family had to take a portrait for a church directory, so they brought a framed photo of me. It was the photographer’s great idea to put me on a pedestal. Also, my Dad and older brother had been fighting over something trivial, my Mom was annoyed, and my younger brother habitually refused to smile for any picture.” – Elizabeth

8. The Manila Folder

“This was taken after church one Saturday. My parents look like they don’t want to be there. My Uncle looks like he’s surprised to be there, (which might explain why he’s holding a folder), and me and my brother are just there.” – Atkins

9. Pugnacious

“My mother in law and I decided to take our dogs to our church directory photo shoot at the last minute. We took separate pictures and wanted a group shot as well. We were all set, then as the photographer took the shot, the neurotic poodle that can’t be away from Mom for a second, decided to leap for freedom. Meanwhile, our pug decided to show her more attractive side. We ended up getting the picture after regrouping and pretty much holding the dogs down against their will.” – Lisa

10. Candid Camera

“We were told we were taking a break.” – Kim

11. Feel The Love

“The church wouldn’t publish this.” – Holly

12. The Suspect

“This is an attempt at a lovely family picture for our church’s registry.  I may or may not have pinched my sister mid-photoshoot.” – Ana

13. All You Need Is…

“Taken in 2015 for our church directory.” – Bill

14. Then Came The Chicken

“My youngest brother refused to be in the photo for our church telephone book unless he could wear his cowboy suit. The accordion followed. Then came the chicken. I just get to be awkward because I’m in fourth grade and have a turtle t-shirt and a severe part.” – Lily

15. The Standout

“We were at our breaking point. The photographer seemed to be having trouble with the camera. The first time he forgot the film, the second time he didn’t load it properly. He’s already lost me completely–I’m the girl biting the inside of her lip and staring into space. My poor oldest brother behind me looks like he’s about 9 feet tall. When I mentioned to my dad that he had the biggest smile, he joked ‘Yeah, I took a pill that morning so I’d be ready!’ My baby brother was about to squirm right off her lap. Yes, this picture hung proudly in our living room for several years!” – Rebekah

16. Out Of Africa

“This is me with my family around 1993 or 1994. My parents were planning to move to Africa to become missionaries, so for our photo for the church directory that year, we all wore authentic Kenyan Karanga shirts.” – Joel

17. Playing Favorites

“We have never really figured out why the church photographer photographed us this way, but we can safely assume who the favorite sister is!” – Katy

18. Twelve Is Enough

“This picture was taken for a church directory in 1990. First of all, who puts every member of their family in a church directory picture. Secondly, every hairstyle known to man in the 80’s was captured in this picture. Third, the babies aren’t having it in this picture. Also, there seems to be a discrepancy as to which camera to look at!” – Justin

19. Suspicious Minds

“Yes, this was taken in the 1970s at our church. I *swear* we were not in a traveling family band with a pitted out VW bus.” – Janis

20. Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

“Dad is a traveling Christian music artist, who is also a worship pastor.  Mom is the choir director at church.  Brother is a YouTube sensation.” – Alex

21. About Face

“My girls and I. The whole family went for church directory photos and the photographer decided to be ‘creative’ with us.  My husband is very much alive and well, but this photo screams ‘Dad is dead!'” – Tomi

Feel free to send us your church directory photos and we’ll add them to the list!