Photographer Diana Kim never thought she would meet her father while documenting homeless life.
The 30-year-old discovered photography at a young age when she spent time with her father in his photography studio, Next Shark reports. But he left the family when Kim was 5 years old. After that, she rarely had a permanent home.
“I always thought of it as ‘roughing it,’ so it didn’t really bother me," she said, remembering the years she spent living in parks, cars and friends' homes. "My survival instincts were always strong.”
Eventually, she settled down in Honolulu, Hawaii, and now has a husband and two sons, reports My Fox Philly.
The young photographer worked toward a career in law and advocacy for the homeless, honoring her upbringing.
"I gravitated towards the homeless because in some ways I identified with their struggle," she explained. "I knew what it meant to be discarded, to be neglected, and to not have the stability and economic freedom I wanted."
Kim created The Homeless Paradise, a campaign featuring photographs and interviews with the homeless.
One day, she saw a haggard, emaciated man suffering from severe schizophrenia, and she knew instantly that he was her father.
She tried to communicate with him, but he was unresponsive and refused to accept her help when she offered it every day that she saw him. He would often stand in the same place for long periods and have arguments by himself.
"There were times when I thought he would die there on that street," she said, but she never gave up, according to Next Shark.
In October 2014, somebody found him in critical condition, which was a blessing in disguise. He was able to receive the care that he needed in the hospital, and he recovered.
Kim says her father is doing well. He is looking for work and spending time with friends and his daughter.
Kim hopes others will find happy endings and that she can continue to help the homeless population.
"My goal, long before my father ever became homeless, was to humanize those who lived on the streets," she said. "They each have a story, and I hope that by sharing my own story, it helps to give new perspective.”
Sources: My Fox Philly, Next Shark / Photo credit: Pixabay