Photographer sets out to photograph homeless, finds her long-lost dad

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Hawaii Law Student Uses Portraits to Help Homeless

Diana Kim, a 30-year-old photographer living in Hawaii, photographs the homeless, aiming to tell their story to her community.

Kim started the photo essay as a law student in 2003, but years later, she came across something unbelievable while shooting.

In 2012, while she was working on her project in the streets of Honolulu, she stumbled upon a man who looked very familiar -- her father. Kim's long-lost father was unexpectedly one the homeless people that she was photographing. She says that when she first saw her father on the streets, it was "devastating," recalling that he was considerable thinner and didn't recognize her.



After finding out that she had found her father, she struggled to reconnect with him and break through the uncomfortable barrier that came from a lack of connecting. Kim decided to photograph "the man she thought she had lost." After photographing her father, she shared the series with NBC Asian America.

More photos from the homelessness crisis in Hawaii:
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Photographer sets out to photograph homeless, finds her long-lost dad
A man sleeps near Waikiki Beach, Friday, May 13, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
In this photo taken Monday Sept. 8, 2014, a man sleeps near a surf board rental stand at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. The Honolulu City Council is considering proposals to ban sitting, lying down, urinating and defecating on sidewalks and other public areas in Waikiki and throughout the island of Oahu. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
In this photo taken Monday Sept. 8, 2014, Jim Trevarthen, 62, watches the surfers near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Trevarthen is one of many homeless people who is unhappy with the city's proposals to ban sitting and lying down on sidewalks in the tourist mecca. Honolulu's city council is set to vote Wednesday on a sit-lie ban in Waikiki and Honolulu, aiming to keep homeless people out of sight after pressure from the tourism industry. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
A collapsed tent lies on the ground near Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. The homeless woman who was sleeping in the tent said last night's winds knocked over her shelter. Many of Hawaii's homeless remained outdoors with some refusing to leave as Tropical Storm Iselle approached the island of Oahu. Iselle came ashore onto the Big Island early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. Iselle is the first tropical storm to hit the state in 22 years. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A homeless people take shelter in their camp near Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu on Friday, Aug, 8, 2014. Iselle came ashore early Friday as a weakened tropical storm, while Hurricane Julio, close behind it, strengthened and is forecasted to pass north of the islands. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Karen Penley sits with her son Nakana in Honolulu on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. A Honolulu homeless shelter won't take action against Penley, who is refusing to cover up while breastfeeding or use a private room. (AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy)
Five-year-old Gregory Williams, front left, and 5-year-old Enaia Carrisales play with playdough after a graduation ceremony for Ka Paalana Traveling Preschool in Honolulu on Thursday, June 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher)
FILE - This July 12, 2010 file photo, Beach goers walk past a homeless tent set up on Waikiki Beach in Honolul, HI. Homelessness increased 15 percent on Oahu since last year according to a recent report. A growing number of homeless are not from Hawaii but make the most of their situation by taking advantage of inviting beaches and support services. State lawmakers are struggling with the visible problem of homelessness in tourist areas and some have proposed a contentious idea to use state money to fly the homeless back to wherever they came from. Honoulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveils his plan Friday, May 10, 2013 for tackling homelessness, a persistent problem in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, FILE)
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2010, file photo Hawaii Department of Emergency Management officers warn homeless campers of the tsunami warning on Maile Beach, in Waianae, Hawaii. Honoulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell unveils his plan Friday, May 10, 2013 for tackling homelessness, a persistent problem in Hawaii. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)
As a Honolulu lifeguard peddles by, a woman is seen walking near Waikiki Beach, Friday, May 13, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Canadian tourists Ivan Tandberg, left, and Lue Jones, right enjoy the sun as a homeless woman sleeps nearby at Kapiolani Park, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Steven Rente, who sleeps at night at a bus stop near Kapiolani Park, reflects on his situation, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
With the blue waters of Waikiki in the background, a man shaves at a public shower at Kapiolani Park, Wednesday, May 11, 2011 in Honolulu. Honolulu is currently grappling with one of nation's most serious homeless challenges as the city prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in November. Homelessness threatens to mar the perfect picture Hawaii would like to present to those attending APEC. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
In this Dec. 18, 2009 photo, John Davis lounges in his tent at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki. Davis is one of about two dozen homeless who camp out at Kapiolani Park in the shadow of Diamond Head and Oahu's main tourist destination Waikiki Beach. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
War Puaala, 47, cooks instant noodles on a portable grill at Ala Moana Beach Park, May 2, 2006 in Honolulu. Puaala, who is currently living at the park, spends his days watching tourists and trying to solve his current situation. Hawaii has a serious homeless problem exacerbated by the soaring rents and property values, and the state is taking unprecedented steps to solve it including a boost in state spending and a new homeless shelter in a prime waterfront area. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Tom West, 53, shares a laugh while unrolling a sleeping bag on the floor at the temporary homeless shelter in the Kakaako waterfront area, May 2, 2006 in Honolulu. West, who is originally from Boulder, Colo, became homeless in February and moved to Hawaii after reading about the warm temperatures. Hawaii has a serious homeless problem exacerbated by the soaring rents and property values, and the state is taking unprecedented steps to solve it including a boost in state spending and a new homeless shelter in a prime waterfront area. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A woman sits inside a tent on the sidewalk in front of Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. A group of homeless and protesters vowed Tuesday to camp out in front of City Hall until Mayor Mufi Hannemann explains where he plans to house the hundreds of people who have been kicked out of a downtown beach park. The city evicted the homeless from Ala Moana Beach Park late Monday night to begin a monthlong repair and maintenance project. About 200 people, including children, had been living at the park near Waikiki across from Honolulu's giant mall, Ala Moana Shopping Center. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
A man sleeps on the grounds of Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. On Monday, the city evicted groups of homeless people from Ala Moana beach park in order to begin renovations to park facilities. Homeless advocates say the closure will displace nearly 200 people, including children. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Dozens of tents crowd Maili Beach Park on the Waianae Coast, of Hawaii, Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Hundreds of homeless people living in tents and makeshift shelters along a 16-mile stretch of scenic beaches in Waianae say they need help to find more permanent housing. (AP Photo/Carol Cunningham)
Sharlene Sotelo's shelter is one of the most elaborate on the Waianae Coast, of Hawaii, Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Hundreds of homeless people living in tents and makeshift shelters along a 16-mile stretch of scenic beaches in Waianae say they need help to find more permanent housing. (AP Photo/Carol Cunningham)
A protester waves to drivers on Punchbowl St. across from Honolulu Hale, Tuesday, March 28, 2006, in Honolulu. On Monday, the city evicted groups of homeless people from Ala Moana beach park in order to begin renovations to park facilities. Homeless advocates say the closure will displace nearly 200 people, including children. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
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