Article written by Heart Project Volunteer - Victoria McKay

The Heart Project is a group of photographers whose aim is to bring the joy and magic of Christmas to families when they can't go home to celebrate themselves. Too many families face endless stretches in hospital over this time so the Heart Project offers a very special christmas photo - the secret is they don't realise just how special that photo will be!

Three Christmas’ ago a small band of photographers visited the Monash Children’s hospital in Melbourne, after a very full day 30 families received a photo with Santa that transformed them into the wonderland of Christmas. Using the magic of Adobe Photoshop these sick kids became part of wintery snow scenes, magical lands and dreamy nightscapes. Accompanied by Santa to deliver each one, there were tears of joy, sighs of disbelief and so many smiles as they were presented with their photos. These will remain a treasured memory of hope and love during very tough times.

Click here to watch the 2016 Christmas Wish Video

Edit by Jesús Rameriz

Edit by Jesús Rameriz

Edit by Jesús Rameriz

The following year more Australian cities were on board, Sydney and Adelaide joined in on the Christmas spirit, spreading the joy even further. More photographers, videographers and digital artists were keen to join in this heartfelt movement as word spread of the project.

Click here to watch the 2017 Christmas Wish Video

2018 has seen the biggest gathering yet with a worldwide ensemble bringing joy globally. Over 200 families were surprised with a chance to celebrate in a way they hadn't imagined. Starting with Adelaide in South Australia the roll call began - Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Auckland NZ, Christchurch NZ, then Canada and The United Kingdom - the Christmas message of hope, joy and love spread across the globe.

Behind the Scenes around the world

“This year, some might say more than ever before, we’ve witnessed a world that could do with a little bit more love,” said Heart Project co-founder and Story Art creator Karen Alsop. “Our mission has always been to put a smile on the face of families who are doing it tough at Christmas by making them escape reality – even for a day – thanks to the power of photography and Photoshop,” she added.

Before and After Slideshow

Edited by Lisa Carney - Before

There was another surprise this year, well known artists from around the world wanted to be involved, an incredible lineup came together to create the most unique and individual photos imaginable, giving the gift of even more creativity to the group. These artists came from all across the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia. Here is what some of the guest artists had to say about their chance to be involved.

"I always enjoy creating unique artwork but getting the opportunity to give some joy to a little girl in the hospital is exponentially more rewarding." - Ben Shirk

"Working on the Heart Project and Aiden’s fun little portrait gave me a chance to reconnect with why I love what I do and Making Awesome Pictures.” - Jason Ulsrud

"Being part of the Christmas Wish project was an amazing experience. It was a great feeling to use my skill to bring a smile to a child's face who is going through a difficult time and will not be home for the holidays. Knowing that the children will treasure and remember the photo for years to come is just a fantastic feeling that I cannot begin to explain. It was an honor to be part of this project, and I am so happy to see the video of the children smiling when they look at their photos." - Jesus Rameriz

Check out more of the incredible work by our Photoshop Masters

Colin Smith,  Renee Robyn, Clinton Lofthouse, Jesus Ramaeriz, Lisa Carney, Jason Ulsrud, Mark Heaps, Ben Shirk, Richard Wood, Kelly McDonald and  Kris Anderson

Click Here

So who are the Heart Project really? They are a group of people who are passionate about using their skills to make even one day a little better for others. The brainchild of Karen Alsop of Story Art, The Heart Project was already giving joy to families of children who were very ill or disabled - allowing the Photoshop magic to lift these kids from their everyday struggles and put them into a new world where wheelchairs were left behind, triplets could fly together and teens were able to re-enact their heros in photographic form. Then the Christmas Wish was born.

Finding volunteers was never the hard part. People who were photographers, artists, those with great organisational skills, those who had contacts in hospitals, those who wanted to come along just to help where they could came and offered their services. People are generous and the people who make up the Heart Project are unsung heroes who give everything they can to give joy to the families.

Would you like to volunteer for 2019? Fill out the form here: SIGNUP

Then there is Santa. You see the Heart Project has been given a gift too - Santa came to help out from the first ever Christmas wish. He connects to the children on such a deep level that even the adults walk away realising they were in the presence of what can only be described as the real Santa. This year he needed help as there were so many countries involved so he called on his helper Santas around the world who stepped in with all the Christmas Spirit needed to make this a success.

Visit our Aussie Santa, Kev Harris's Facebook Page:

So here we are at the end of the amazing 2018 world wide Christmas Wish, the dream of going global now a reality, the team larger than ever; a world wide family of people who just want to help others in any way they can. This project is the real spirit of Christmas, the love and happiness that is shared has been doubled every year….. who knows where what was a small gesture in one hospital in 2016 will go from here? How many lives in the future will be touched by this simple yet meaningful gesture of magic through photography? We can't wait to find out.

Behind the Scenes of Christmas Wish 2018

Important people and references

This project was made possible with thanks to the following people and organisations

Our major sponsors, for whom we are incredibly grateful are:

Nikon Australia


EIZO Australia

Kayell Australia

Companies that Supported this year's Christmas Wish globally include:


Tether Tools

Epson Australia

Seldex Artistic Albums

Adobe Australia

Capture One


Motion Array

Canson Infinity

Adobe Lightroom CC

Regional Sponsors that helped our teams run include:

Brilliant Prints Pro, Melbourne Headshot Company (Robyn Campbell),Team Digital, Doyles Fancy Dress Hire Wangara, Quite a Character, Evolve Dance Centre, Pearce Construction (Barnstaple), St John's Garden Centre, Devon Digital Imaging, Wildae Restorations, Photowarehouse, Auckland Eclipse Massage and Beauty, Nikon New Zealand

Photoshop Artists that created the background plates for the images spent many creative hours preparing:

Karen Alsop

Estelle Trueman

Katie Forshaw

Kelly McDonald

Rowena Cherry

Editors that worked around the clock editing including some artist that covered multiple teams edits. Special thanks to Charm Hauraki, Lee Hadem, Callie Crawley, Andrea Warren, Samantha Vandeyar, Angelo VanDer Klift and the many other editors that were so dedicated and generous throughout this process.

Pro Photoshop Masters from across the world went to extra lengths to create some incredible masterpieces for families

Colin Smith

Renee Robyn

Clinton Lofthouse

Jesus Ramaeriz

Lisa Carney

Jason Ulsrud

Mark Heaps

Ben Shirk

Richard Wood

Kelly McDonald

Kris Anderson

Each Team was headed up by a Team Leader who dedicated hours in preparation and on the day to ensure their Christmas Wish ran smoothly. Huge thanks to the team leaders and the team members in each location.

Kris Anderson & Selena Rollason - Brisbane

Ann Worthy Stephenson - Auckland and Christchurch

Jacqui Griffin & Victoria McKay - Adelaide

Rosie Appleton - Melbourne

Linda Hewell - Perth

Katie Forshaw - Bristol, UK

Yvette Vanrensburg - Sydney

Estelle Trueman - North Devon, UK

Erin Michalski - Canada

Our hospitals, hospices and everyone who helped make this happen.

Adam Cubito - PR

Channel 9 News - Emily Rice

Special thanks to our Santas!

Kevin Harris - Aussie Santa (third year part of the project and couldn't do it without him) who covered Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland

Stig Eldred - New Zealand Santa

James Beetson - Brisbane Santa

Dennis Lynden - Sydney Santa

Kenn Martin and Frank Moloney - Perth Santas

Stig Eldred - Christchurch Santa

Joe Maricic - Canada Santa

Steve Gambling - UK Bristol

Pat Warminster - UK North Devon

Do you want to be a part of something amazing?

We are growing our Heart Project team and opportunities.

Please fill out the form to be kept up to date on future projects.

We look forward to being in contact with you.


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