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Tampa Bay photographer captures unfiltered childhood

Kelly Haymes makes photos of her kids that reflect imperfect, everyday moments.
Finley, 7, poses in her domain: her messy room.
Finley, 7, poses in her domain: her messy room. [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Published Jul. 27
Updated Aug. 23

Kelly Haymes takes family photos, just not the classic group portrait at the beach with matching outfits. Haymes would rather spend the day living life, camera in tow.

“It’s how I’ve always photographed my own family.”

The Haymes family of Riverview lives every day in a photo shoot. The children, Caleb, 10, and Finley, 7, are the muses. Snapshots include playtime with dolls, doctor visits and details of gap-toothed smiles. Haymes sees value in all of it, her photographs a reflection of what she values in her children and what they should value as well, beyond the posed moments when all is shiny and clean.

“It shows we value them no matter what,” she said. “I value things like play and imagination. Those are the pictures on my walls.”

Sharing her family’s intimate moments on social media means having conversations as her children get older. Haymes said she respects their opinions and their limits. If they don’t want a photo shared on the internet, she holds back.

“Photographing anyone is about trust. If you break that trust you’ll never get that opportunity back.”

Family documentary photography is becoming increasingly popular for those who want to document their lives using a photojournalistic approach. Through her professional photography business, Momma Got Soul Photography, Haymes provides clients the same experience as her own family, sometimes tagging along with families on day trips to Disney, or just hanging out at their home.

Her artistic mission is to convince others that there’s beauty in the habitual.

When people look at her work, she hopes the message is clear.

“I want them to know that their normal, everyday lives are beautiful. That what they have is enough. Your life is really cool.”

Caleb, 10, and Finley, 7, are pictured in the backyard among toys. 

"Since my children don't have a typical classroom, their own imaginary classroom isn't typical either."
Caleb, 10, and Finley, 7, are pictured in the backyard among toys. "Since my children don't have a typical classroom, their own imaginary classroom isn't typical either." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Caleb, center, and Finley hang out with their dogs, Vernon, right, and Clover. 

"My kids enjoying a quiet afternoon in the backyard."
Caleb, center, and Finley hang out with their dogs, Vernon, right, and Clover. "My kids enjoying a quiet afternoon in the backyard." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Caleb and Finley wait for a medical appointment. 

"The constant hurry-up and wait of all our lives."
Caleb and Finley wait for a medical appointment. "The constant hurry-up and wait of all our lives." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Caleb reacts after being scolded by his father.

"Those hard years when you are not a little kid anymore, but you are not an adult either. When tears still come quick and hot when a parent rebuffs you."
Caleb reacts after being scolded by his father. "Those hard years when you are not a little kid anymore, but you are not an adult either. When tears still come quick and hot when a parent rebuffs you." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Finley shows off a gap-toothed smile. 

"The gap. The years when you are missing teeth and naps."
Finley shows off a gap-toothed smile. "The gap. The years when you are missing teeth and naps." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
The children play with a friend on a trampoline filled with dish soap.
The children play with a friend on a trampoline filled with dish soap. [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Caleb and Finley snuggle on the floor. 

"That brief, half second these siblings are enjoying each other's company before the battle begins again."
Caleb and Finley snuggle on the floor. "That brief, half second these siblings are enjoying each other's company before the battle begins again." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Feet are pictured through the opening of a cardboard box. 

"My children are often found with dirty bare feet. They enjoy the mud between their toes, something we take the time to enjoy less and less with age."
Feet are pictured through the opening of a cardboard box. "My children are often found with dirty bare feet. They enjoy the mud between their toes, something we take the time to enjoy less and less with age." [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]
Caleb launches himself off a swing while playing at a local park.
Caleb launches himself off a swing while playing at a local park. [ KELLY HAYMES | Special to the Times ]