A Korean-American photographer named Diana Kim was only five when her parents separated and her dad became “absent.
” As a single parent, Kim’s mom had it rough with both of them bouncing between relatives and friends. Sometimes, they even stayed in parks or ended up spending the night in their car. However, Kim saw that experience as a chance to build her survival skills.
Kim’s dad used to have a photography studio and ironically enough, this is what sparked her interest in photography. When she was in college, she started taking pictures of homeless people as part of a project. Even when she became a professional photographer, she continued taking photos of homeless people because they reminded her of her rough childhood and she could also understand what it felt like to be forgotten.
Little did she know that this little project of hers would set her on the path to reuniting with her dad.
As she was taking photos on the streets of Honolulu, she suddenly recognized one of the homeless people was her father.She tried to talk to him but he wasn’t right in the head and he was physically in bad shape. She tried multiple times to get his attention but without success.
He wouldn’t even face her.
But even if she couldn’t get through to him, she refused to give up. She went to see him again and again, always trying to talk to him and hoping to get a response. It struck at Kim’s heart to see her dad like that but with her not able to do anything about it. So she did what she could and continued taking photos of him.
To Kim, a photo is not just some frozen image. A photo also embodies the emotions and feelings inherent in the subject. That’s why taking photos of her father were Kim’s way of staying close to him.
But one day, her dad suffered a heart attack and somebody called an ambulance. It may sound strange but the incident was what saved his life and brought him back. This is because as he was in the hospital recovering, he started getting treatment for his mental conditions as well.
Getting the right treatment made all the difference and the condition of Kim’s dad improved drastically. Now both father and daughter are working on rebuilding their relationship every day and are catching up on parent-child activities that they never had a chance to do such as going to the movies together, going for a drive, or just taking a stroll 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,” she added.
“If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again!”
Kim’s story shows that even if you might not be able to change the world, changing the life of one person is just as priceless.
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