Student Photographs the Homeless for Personal Project, Realizes Her Long-Lost Father Is One of Them
Diana Kim grew up on the island of Maui, HI, where she discovered her passion for photography— a craft she honed from her father and the photography studio he once owned. Yet her childhood wasn't exactly picture-perfect. Her parents split, and her father removed himself from her life when she was just five years old.
After a devastating phone call from her grandmother years later, she learned that her father's mental health had declined drastically. She was told her father had gone missing and his whereabouts where unknown.
In 2003, Kim initiated a personal photography project, capturing the lives of the homeless living in her community. On one photo shoot in 2012, the unexpected happened. While shooting the homeless on the streets of Honolulu, she discovered that one of the subjects was her father.
At first, her dad didn't even recognize her—even though he was the one who looked dramatically different. That moment was "devastating" for Kim.
"A woman came by and told me to 'not bother,' because he stood there all day. I wanted to scream at her for not caring, for being so cruel, and not considering that he was my father," Kim told NBC News. "But then I realized that anger wouldn't do anything to change the circumstances we were in, so I turned to her and said, 'I have to try.'"
One day, Kim's father suffered a nearly fatal heart attackthat ended up turning his life around, thanks to a stranger calling the paramedics. "Having the heart attack truly saved his life. It gave him the opportunity to get back on a treatment plan. And he has been on it ever since."
"Looking through the lens and capturing that moment also captures my feelings in that moment. I think that, without the camera, I would have felt too naked and vulnerable to approach my father," Kim said. "I don't think I could have made the same journey without the purpose of documenting his journey as well. My goal, long before my father ever became homeless, was to humanize those who lived on the streets.
Video: Law student uses portraits to help homeless
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