This Hawaiian Photographer Went Around Taking Pictures Of The Homeless Community And Ended Up Finding Her Long-Lost Father
While she was studying photography, Diana Kim decided to focus her work on taking pictures of the homeless population in Hawaii. She was stunned when one of the subjects for a portrait was none other than her own father who had become homeless himself since Kim last interacted with him. Over time, Kim worked to connect with him. Ultimately she was successful and is using social media to document her relationship with him and what she’s learned about homelessness.
Taking Photos Of Those On The Margins
Diana Kim was inspired to photograph the homeless population, in part, because of her life story. Since her parents split up when she was five years old, Kim and her mother experienced homelessness as couch surfing, sleeping in the park and spending some nights living in her mother’s car. Kim’s father wasn’t in the picture very much at this time.
Kim had been taking pictures of the homeless population for quite some time when she had unexpectedly found her father in front of her lens. She originally got into photography because it was something her dad had done. She decided to focus on capturing shots of people living without shelter because it helped her to come to terms with her own experiences as a child. She could relate to her subjects fears of being forgotten and being uncared for. Her pictures were both resonant and emotional.
Reconnecting With Her Dad Started Slowly
Once she found him in front of her camera, Kim didn’t connect with her dad all at once. At first, as she approached him he didn’t respond. He was in such poor physical and mental shape that he didn’t recognize her and simply wanted to be left alone. Kim didn’t give up. She returned to him multiple times even though her approaches weren’t recognized or welcomed.
During this period, all that Kim could do was helplessly take pictures of him and document what he was going through, a process that she found heartbreaking. However, she remained hopeful that even this passive approach was somehow getting through to him and making a small difference.
Patience Pays Off
Kim’s instincts to start slowly were dead on. Over time, her patient approach allowed her to keep in touch with him and helped him to become familiar with her. When he suffered a serious heart attack requiring hospitalization, she was there for him during recovery.
While serious, Kim’s father’s heart attack ultimately allowed him to receive life-saving physical and mental health treatment. With it, he was able to recover from his issues, reconnect with his daughter, and reenter society. Kim credits the health crisis for saving his life and is pleased that they are able to share their lives again.
Compiling Photos On Social Media
Joyfully, Kim found a way to compile and share the ongoing story of how she’s reconnecting with her dad on social media. Her social media brand, called Homeless Paradise, is available on both Instagram and Facebook. Kim’s Facebook page alone has almost 5,500 followers and her Instagram account has more than 2,000. Fans love the story that she tells and comments include ones like Tiffany Chao’s who stated: “I just heard about your story this morning. I found it so touching I can’t handle the tears.”
Not only are her emotional photos resonating with people, but Kim is using her platform to talk about the details of what it means to be homeless on a daily basis. On Facebook, she talks about how homelessness affects the feet of those who experience it. And on Instagram, her project has raised the subject of repurposing items that have been formerly cast aside. Taken collectively, the photos encourage people to think about homelessness, and their own lives, in a new way. They are beautiful, inspiring, and well worth the time spent enjoying them.
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