Bright Side

A Photographer Takes Pictures of a Homeless Man and Realizes It’s Her Long Lost Father

A Korean American photographer started taking pictures of homeless people when she was still studying photography. While taking pictures on the streets, she recognized one of the men as her own father who she hadn’t seen for years, since her parents got separated.

We at Bright Side were fascinated by this story and really want to tell our readers about it.

Diana Kim was only 5 when her parents split up and her dad became what she called “absent.” Kim’s mom had a rough time, bouncing between relatives and friends with her little girl, sometimes staying in parks or spending the night in their car. But Kim looked at this experience as a chance to build her survival skills.

Kim’s dad had a photography studio and she said that her interest in photography started with him. She started taking pictures of homeless people when she was in college, as a project, and continued even when she became a professional photographer. This project was very close to her heart, probably because of her rough childhood and the fact that she could understand their feeling of being forgotten.

While she was photographing on the streets of Honolulu, she realized that one of the homeless people she had taken photos of was actually her own father. She tried to talk to him, but he was in very bad shape, physically and mentally, so he refused even speak the young photographer. She approached him multiple times trying to get some attention, without any success. He wouldn’t even look at her.

Even though her father refused to acknowledge her, she never gave up. She would go to see him again and again, and try to talk to him, hoping to get some response. And a photograph. It was heart-breaking for Kim to see her dad in such poor shape and not be able to do anything about it. Looking at him through the camera lens was her way of staying close to him. She was still with her father, in a way.

Photography is so much more than just frozen images when it’s done with a passion like Kim has. It also captures feelings and emotions. It’s almost ironic that Kim’s dad passed this interest in photography on to his daughter when he had his studio, and then photography became that bridge which eventually connected them.

One day Kim’s dad had a heart attack on the street and somebody called an ambulance. While in the hospital, recovering after the heart attack, he started getting treatment for his mental conditions as well. This may sound very strange, but the heart attack basically saved his life, and the person who called for help, of course.

Getting the right treatment made a huge difference and Kim’s conditions improved dramatically. He and his daughter now work on building their relationship every day and doing the usual parent-child things that they didn’t do in the past, like going to the movies together, going for a drive, or just walking on the beach.

“This story isn’t just mine... it is everyone’s story... we all probably know someone who has either been homeless or is currently homeless. I hope this helps to continue humanizing homelessness for our community,” says Kim.

“The more I get to know him, the more I get to know myself... I’m so grateful that the test of time and persistence has given us the opportunity to see each other for who we really are,” said Kim.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!” — that’s right, never give up, Kim didn’t. You can’t change the entire world, no one can. But the changing the life of just one person is priceless.

Are you impressed with Kim’s dedication and persistence? We would love to read what you think about it in the comments!

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