This week's profile in our InFrequently Asked Questions feature is Francine Mittenthal, who braves the rough world of baby photography.
INfrequently Asked QuestionsA weekly feature of the Daily Herald that explores the sides of suburbanites' jobs or hobbies that you might have always wondered about. To see more, go to www.dailyherald.com/topics/INfrequently-Asked-Questions/
Hometown: Glen Ellyn
Why her: The owner of Lillybelle Rose Photography is a baby whisperer/marriage counselor, who knows how to read the little cues to soothe a newborn (her specialty) before a crying fit -- and how to get new moms and dads to reconnect in front of the camera after too much time on diaper duty.
Q. Do new parents ask for advice?
A. "I try not to be the old lady giving advice too much, but I always say, 'You are going to figure them out, and they're going to figure you out.' I didn't have all of these techniques when my girls were little, and we all did just fine."
Q. Is it sometimes ... a dirty job?
A. "I used to try and dress nice. Now I have three black shirts. Those are my shoot shirts. And I wear black lounge pants. They will pee and poop, and I always say everything's washable: the props, me. Everything's good.
"I had a mom squeal once. And I looked and realized -- I was so warm because I was sitting by the heater. I didn't know her little boy was peeing on my face because it was so warm. She's like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.'"
Q. How do you get camera-shy parents comfortable?
A. "I always say I'm a mush. My law is that people have to touch. It's not even a rule. That is my hard, fast law. People need to be touching. No hands can be down. They need to be on each other, and that immediately shows connections.
And then after I get a couple of poses, I'll tell people to 'mush.' And they laugh. You can see the energy shift. They're engaging with each other, but then they smile more naturally because they feel silly that they're mushing."
Q. What are some of you favorite poses of parent and child?
A. "Most of the time, I will have moms tear up in the studio. I have a pose I tend to do with moms. I get the baby right up against their cheek and jaw, and I tell them to just close their eyes and breathe them in.
"That's what I did when I was a mom. I would just breathe in my children. I know that sounds strange. Just the connection, the skin-on-skin, this is yours, and you've created this.
"And you can tell as they close their eyes, their lips get tight, and the tear drips down, and those are the moments I really love to capture. Because that's just so raw. It's so in the moment."
Q. What about the cutest pose for newborns?
A. "I like to see skin, natural, simple because they're so sweet and innocent and beautiful, and they're just all perfect.
"I do like the little tushy up in the air.
"I can tell when the smiles are coming because it's when they get into the REM sleep. You can see their mouth moving a little bit, the cheek twitching a little bit.
"Some of them are not smilers, and they might make funny faces versus crack a little grin, and sometimes I'll capture those, too, because it's a sweet memory."