Awkward Family Photos: This Is Why We're Scared Of Clowns!

Clowns are meant to be funny - but unfortunately their red noses and oversized shoes often elicit screams of fear, rather than tears of laughter.

Fear of clowns has become a recognised condition with a scientific name - Coulrophobia.

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Twilight's Robert Patterson, Johnny Depp and P Diddy all fear the funny men, with Diddy''s fear running so deep that he is rumoured to have once had a 'no clowns' clause written into a contract.

Depp says his phobia stems from childhood nightmares in which he would see clowns' faces leering at him.

"I guess I am afraid of them because it's impossible, thanks to their painted-on smiles, to distinguish if they are happy or if they're about to bite your face off,' he said.

A study by the University of Sheffield found that children find clowns 'frightening and unknowable,' and looking through the photos below it's not hard to see why!

Awkward Family Photos have been collecting photos of clowns that are the stuff of nightmares. From unfortunate photo ops with costumed clowns to ill-advised family fancy dress themes, click through the gallery below to see the clown incidents that have haunted children for years ... that is if you're not too scared!

Awkward Family Photos was set up by Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, two LA screenwriters who have been friends since high school. Find out more about what inspired them to set up the photo sharing site in our interview.

Love these? Why not have a look at these hilarious baby photos, strange pregnancy poses, bizarre family pet pictures and cringe-inducingly awkward family holiday snaps.