Christmas Wish 2019


The Christmas Wish

Edit by Bren Slade - Idaho Family

Photographers around the world visited hospitals to bring Christmas Magic to children who are sick this Christmas.

Christmas Wish 2019 Video

For the past four years The Heart Project, led by photographer Karen Alsop, has run a project where they bring Christmas joy to sick children. Santa and the volunteer team first visited the Monash Children’s Hospital in 2016 to visit sick kids who weren’t able to go home for Christmas. The team created incredible photo art portraits that these families treasure, for some they have been the final portrait of their family before their loved one passed. These unique portraits magically take children out of their present situation and transport them into a Christmas Wonderland with the power of Photoshop.

Magical Christmas Wish Edits

In 2016 Karen Alsop of Story Art realized there were too many families who couldn’t take their children home to celebrate Christmas together like other families. She simply wanted to bring joy to those who were confined to hospital during the season and this is when the “Christmas Wish” was born. Her band of willing volunteers from The Heart Project; a group Karen started who make dreams come true through photos for very sick children; came together to run the inaugural Christmas Wish at Monash Children’s Hospital Melbourne. So it happened that for a brief break in their otherwise hard routine of tests and procedures, sick children, and the families who love them, were given a chance to free themselves from the confines of a hospital through the magic of photography. The happiness of Christmas is now shared yearly and world wide through this amazing organization. It is all made possible with the help of her group of photographers, editors and other volunteers as well as practical support with equipment and advice from Nikon, Epson and other generous sponsors.

Behind the Scenes

From that one hospital in 2016 the Christmas Wish grew to more hospitals across Australia in 2017, then in 2018 people joined in worldwide for the first time. In 2019 around 200 plus volunteers 50 plus editors 10 teams working came together with 200 plus children/families worldwide. Karen Alsop knows without the team there would be no Christmas Wish. “It wasn't until I started The Heart Project that I truly realised how powerful and life changing photographic digital art could be,” she said. “From small beginnings of photographing a 5 year old girl that couldn't speak or walk, and freeing her to fly with butterflies, our impact is now making a difference across the world. Christmas Wish is all about joy and hope. We see children who come in with the weight of the world on their shoulders leave with a magical photo and an equally magically encounter with Santa and the team. These photos are precious memories that they otherwise would not have. Now in our 4th year, our team has grown phenomenally, we had volunteers taking part from all corners of the globe. We had editors and photographers giving up their skills and time to create precious keepsakes for families all around the world.”

Edit by Ben Shrirk -

"Being part of the Christmas Wish is a no brainer for me. It is a way to give back to our community. As a teen I was working as a nanny. On one of my days off I was devastated when I received the news that my small charge was fatally bitten by a snake – since that day I have always helped sick kids where I can. They deserve a little magic, and I have a pouch full of glitter" - Kelly McDonald, Lead Editor, Melbourne

“One of the boys we photographed at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener was in a wheelchair, and seemed to have minimal ability to move or communicate. It was such a touching moment when Santa instinctively took his hand, gently stroked his hair, and leaned down whispering softly to him, “you are the most beautiful boy in the world.” - Erin Michalski Team Leader for Kitchener and Etobicoke Ontario, Canada.

This is also the first year workshops were held across Australia for people to learn how the process of shooting and editing works, these people will be ready to help with next years’ Christmas Wish as well as having learned valuable new skills from setting up lighting, to shooting on green screens to fantastic editing tips and tricks. These workshops had over 130 attendees this year.

Christmas Wish Workshops

All editors and volunteers are trained in Photoshop Compositing and learn the fundamentals including cutting out subjects, placing subjects into scenes, adding shadow, embedding subjects into the scene and more. Editors gain valuable skills being part of the volunteer team. To register interest for 2020 this form can be filled out:

“This is my first year being involved in the Christmas Wish program as a remote editor. It has been a wonderful experience! I was so excited for the first night of live editing I did... I was nervous all day waiting for it to start! I am just in awe that I get to be involved in such a good cause with this extremely talented and generous group!" - Gina Rindfleisch, Remote Editor, Wisconsin, USA

Another really exciting development this year is the amazing talented team of 50 editors, headed up by Charm Hauraki from New Zealand, who have created backgrounds and edited the photos 24/7 as they were uploaded by the teams. There are more than 50 backgrounds created by Photoshop Artists from around the world for Christmas Wish specifically. This pool of talent has created magical scenes and this is where the secret came in – none of the families knew what to expect when they met Santa. They had their photo taken on a green screen, they have no idea of the wonderlands these incredible digital artists have created for them and the beautiful photos they will receive and be able to treasure forever.

"For me I suppose what I remember amongst all of the emotion on that day, was quietly selecting and sending thru the pictures to be edited. When choosing I was imagining them in the Christmas scene and feeling all the feels."

- Joanne Manariti, Image Selector/Editing Distributor, Melbourne

The excitement, the involvement, and the power of this work simply grows every year. The beauty of being involved is that you don’t have to be a photographer, you don’t have to be a skilled editor, you can be someone who can organize small groups, who can interact with children and families, or someone who has a passion to help out and is willing to do all those little extras that always need doing. This event is made possible by the enthusiasm and hard work of all the volunteers in all the different roles, each one as important as the next.

“I first learned of the Christmas Wish in 2016 while working in a Melbourne children’s hospital and thought the concept was incredible. Shortly afterwards, I moved to NYC to launch a TV studio in the brand new Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. I was so excited when Karen reached out looking for US based hospitals to join the project this year and instantly I signed on to participate.” - Chiffon Greene, Team Leader, New York

2019 also saw another great addition, Christmas Wish ran in the USA for the first time. A group from Idaho ran their first Christmas Wish on Saturday the 16th November with great success and much happiness for the families involved. Another group from New York ran in early December also to great success and joy. This all shows how powerful a small start can be in creating a worldwide movement.

Edit by Bren Slade - Idaho Family

The Christmas Wish

While the Christmas Wish is a nonprofit organization there are many costs that need to be covered. That’s where the help and support of Nikon is invaluable. Julie Kimpton who is Snr. Professional Markets Manager for Nikon Australia said this:

“Christmas Wish brings hope and joy to sick children in hospitals around the world through the art of photography. In my 20 years working with Nikon and in the Australian photographic industry, I believe nothing else shows the true value of photography like the Christmas Wish. The incredible team of volunteer professional photographers and compositors create stunning photographic art pieces, which are printed and gifted to the children and their families. Nikon are so pleased and proud to support Christmas wish and all it represents. Photographers creating priceless memories.” - Julie Kimpton, Snr. Professional Markets Manager for Nikon Australia

Julie Kimpton - Snr. Professional Markets Manager for Nikon Australia

The real Santa (@Aussie_Santa) was onboard again and for anyone not sure he IS the real thing, the truth is that children and parents meet him for the first time and all their doubts disappear. “I have worked with Santa on all the Christmas Wish groups since 2016,” Victoria McKay, a wish volunteer said, “ I can tell you there is not a child who starts to talk to him who walks out without knowing they met the real man in red. Last year in Adelaide a boy came in and all he wanted was to talk was about flags, Santa started to ask a few questions and within minutes the boys eyes were like saucers – Santa KNEW all the flags and a lengthy discussion was had. That magic can only be achieved by the real Santa"

Photography and Edit by Kris Anderson - Brisbane Australia

The whole Christmas Wish is my Magic Moment I feel so privileged to be involved seeing Jess in Sydney who self diagnosed her Cancer, Archie on the Surfboard who didn't want anything from Santa but something for his friend Joe, Lucy in South Australia who only wanted sunglasses… I could go on but for me its likeminded people coming together to work on something spectacular! That is the Christmas Wish for Me !! - Santa, Joy Giver, North Pole

Archie, Sydney - Photography and Edit by Founder Karen Alsop

So there are a few secrets left, the special project that will come from here is still top secret, there is the secret that is held back from the children who don’t know the extent their photos will be transformed, then there is the secret warmth in the heart of the parent who has sat with their sick child, fretting about the future, staying strong for the family and being rewarded with a little bit of joy from this amazing group of Christmas Angels. The biggest secret is that the real Santa is the one who comes along and makes the magic happen. Honest. Watch some of the videos and you too will believe.

Article by Vicki MacKay - Heart Project Volunteer

Celebrity Edits Before and After

Celebrity Pro Photoshop Artists from around the world create stunning custom edits


Ben Shirk - USA


Colin Smith - USA

Mark Heaps - USA

Renee Robyn - Canada

Angelo Van Der Klift -NETHERLANDS

Jesús Rameriz - USA


Richard Wood - NEW ZEALAND


Huge thanks to the incredible work undertaken by the remote editors! Over 400 images edited for 2019!

Kris Anderson, Naomi Bassham, Janice Batterbee, Alan Bennett, Naomi Bubner, Rowena Cherry, Yolanda Coquereau, Jennifer Cosby, Callie Crawley, Lesley Daividson, Vanessa Davis, Constance Denault, Rebecca Dillahay, Emma Fleetwood, Julie Gebbing, Lee Haden, Charm Hauraki, Max HP, Swati Hulsure, Gihan Isac, Marnie Jones, Pam Korman, Miff Lay, Yvette Martinette, Linda Maveri, Kelly McDonald, Cristina Menor, Erin Michalski, Kylie Morrissy, Ann Nguyen, Ryan Paumier, Kylie Ramsey, Naomi Reiter, Gina Rindfleisch, Selena Rollason, Teri Rollin, Sharon Ryan, Angie Scarano, Bren Slade, Sharlea Taft, Alice Termer, Magaly Tomiampos, Angelo Van der Klift, Samantha Vandeyar, Darryl Walters, Andrea Warren, Karen Alsop, Charm Hauraki, Swati Hulsure, Alan Bennett

Massive thanks to the Teams around the world!

The campaign would not be possible without the generous support of major partner Nikon Australia​​, together with Epson Australia, Wacom, Eizo, Kayell Australia, Brilliant Prints, Team Digital, Graphic Arts Supplies, Tether Tools, Adobe Stock, PixelSquid, Capture One, Canson Infinity, Aussie Santa, Motion Array, Eleven 40 Studio, Iain Bond Photography Studio, Fridays Studio, Kingswood Tafe, Tafe Queensland and all the hospitals and hospices around the world.

For more information or to arrange an interview please email​​ or contact during Australian business hours:

Karen Alsop: Project Director - +61416 233 451 // ​

Media are free to use the images, with attribution to - The Heart Project -

Do not alter or edit images in any way

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