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The Homeless Paradise: the touching story of Diana Kim and her dad


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Photographer Diana Kim has managed to reconnect with her father after finding him among the homeless people she was documenting in Hawaii for a photo project.

A photographer spent years documenting homeless people only to find out that her father had become homeless. The artist’s name is Diana Kim and she began photographing the less fortunate people back in 2003. About ten years later, Diana encountered her father among the people she was documenting and she described the moment as devastating as he failed to recognize her and he was in a very poor shape.

The artist has shared her experience and the steps that allowed her to reconnect with her father and everything sounds like it was taken from a Hollywood movie rather than a real-life story.

Artist understands what homeless people go through, starts documenting their lives

Diana Kim grew up on the Island of Maui, albeit her childhood was not a very happy one. Her parents split when she was young, but she still remembers her father’s photography studio as well as him giving her sweets behind her mother’s back.

Unfortunately, her father became alienated in time, while Diana and her mother found it hard to find a stable place to live. The artist remembers living in parks, cars, or in the homes of her relatives and family friends.

The photographer said that she got used to this lifestyle and that it did not bother her too much thanks to her “strong survival instincts”. As she grew older and got in touch with photography,  in her first year of college, Diana decided to photograph homeless people.

The artist said that she understood what they are going through, so she felt that they needed to have their life documented. The project is called “The Homeless Paradise” and is sending a powerful message about the homeless, who “don’t just want to survive”, they “want to thrive”.

The Homeless Paradise: Diana Kim found her father among the homeless she was photographing

Diana’s homeless project began in 2003. Over the years, the artist captured many compelling photos of the people without a home. With years passing by, she learned from her grandmother that her father’s health was deteriorating and that he no longer wanted to eat, to take care of his hygiene, or to take his medication.

Moreover, her grandmother told her that she is not sure of his whereabouts or where he goes to sleep at night. Nevertheless, Diana kept going and she kept taking photos for the project. One day in 2012, everything changed as the found her father living on the street.

Her father lost weight and his mental issues were taking their toll. He did not even recognize his daughter and he refused to accept her help. He suffered from schizophrenia and appeared to argue with someone or something, although he was standing alone, Diana said.

The artist then decided to take it slowly and to try to reconnect with him in order to convince him to undergo therapy, while attempting to “humanize homelessness” through her photo project.

Diana’s father finally accepted her help

Instead of getting better, her father’s health got a lot worse and one day he suffered a heart attack. Thankfully, someone was there, called an ambulance and the medics managed to save his life.

During his recovery process, Diana managed to convince her father to accept help for his other problems. The rehabilitation process went well and her father is now taking his meds, he is eating, and he is even looking for a job, said the artist.

The photographer adds that it means a lot to her that he is having a normal life. It took more than two years to get to this point, but it all worked out for the best. You can check out more details at Diana’s website.

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