Ah, the joys of being a new dad—the sleep deprivation, the cluelessness. Dave Engledow, BJ ’02, knows these feelings all too well. So to poke fun at himself and other distracted dads, Engledow created a series of photos he dubbed “World’s Best Father,” starring his own little rug rat, Alice Bee.
A photographer by trade, Engledow knew he wanted to create something far more unique than a baby album for his firstborn.
“I knew I wanted to take very creative photos of Alice,” Engledow says. “When she was eight weeks, I had this idea to poke fun at myself because I felt so clueless and sleep-deprived. So I took a photo using her milk in my coffee. And I decided it would be funnier if I used a ‘World’s Best Father’ mug in the shot.”
That mug quickly became Engledow’s signature and the title of the series, which is posted on his Facebook page.
He never would’ve guessed that the tongue-in-cheek shots—which range from giving Alice ribs for dinner to bathing her in the washing machine— would be featured on the likes of the Today Show and in the Huffington Post.
“It all started about a week and a half ago,” Engledow says. “It’s just been surreal. I have no idea how it happened. I’m still having to pinch myself.”
An Austin native now living in Maryland, Engledow claims he was saying “Hook ’em” before he learned any other words. On the Forty Acres, he studied photojournalism under the watchful eye of professor Dennis Darling, whose class Engledow says was his favorite part of UT.
“I learned more in his introductory photography class than any other class I’ve ever taken,” he says. “It was the only class where I was in the front row, early to class, and never missed a day.”
These days, 21-month-old Alice is Engledow’s partner in crime. They’ve created new photos 3-4 times a month since she was six months old—taking separate shots that are later combined to create the final product.
“In the past month or so, she’s really started paying attention,” Engledow says. “She’ll recognize herself in the photos and say, ‘Daddy’ or ‘Alice.’ The one where the smoothie is all over my face, she saw that and just started laughing. I think overall she’s had a good time.”
Though his “World’s Best Father” photos depict some seriously hazardous behavior—i.e. Alice sitting in a steaming pot on the stove—Engledow says he’s gotten surprisingly little negative feedback. (And assures everyone she’s in no danger.)
“I don’t want to be the guy in the photos,” he says. “When Alice was born, my greatest fear was that I was going to be that guy who leaves the baby on top of the car driving down the road. That’s something that other parents connect to. “
As for all the surprise media attention, Engledow is actually hoping it’ll die down eventually.
“I’d like for Alice to have relatively normal childhood. As for me, everyone’s now seen me in a pink tutu. That’s something I’ll have to deal with,” he laughs.
Engledow, who still bleeds burnt orange—you’ll see him and Alice sporting various articles of UT clothing in the photos—hopes his daughter is a little Longhorn in the making.
“I’m not going to force her to go to the college that I want,” he says, “but I hope someday I’ll see her playing for the Lady Longhorns.”
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Photos by Dave Engledow.