Christmas Wish 2018 Media Centre - The Heart Project
Edit by Karen Alsop

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Photographers set to visit hospitals around the world to create magical portraits for sick children this Christmas

The Heart Project, a volunteer organisation dedicated to improving families lives through creativity, has today revealed details of its most ambitious project to date.

Over the past week, The Christmas Wish Project, now in its third year, staged a series of events around the world that captured out-of-this-world Christmas portraits of over 200 children stuck in hospital during ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

The project, which in previous years has gained viral media attention on the likes of CNN, Mashable, Vanity Fair and Buzzfeed, assembled a team of over 110 volunteer photographers and creatives in 10 cities around the world who photographed children on green screen and then surprised them with finished portraits that showcased them in a magical Christmas scene with Santa. It marks the first time the project has officially ventured into other cities around the world.

In 2018, The Christmas Wish Project team together with Santa and his helpers kicked off the project in Victoria, Australia before moving on to Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

The project then went across the ditch to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand and concluded with visits to Canada and the United Kingdom. “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.

Portraits of the The Heart Project Christmas Wish 2018 recipients were released in a global event, December 12, 2018.

The campaign would not be possible without the generous support of major partner Nikon Australia​​, together with Smugmug, Eizo, Wacom, Kayell Australia, Tether Tools, Epson, Adobe and Seldex.

For more information or to arrange an interview please email​​

or contact during Australian business hours:

Adam Cubito: PR Manager - +61 403 876 338 // ​

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

Media are free to use the images found on the below link, with attribution to - The Heart Project -

This video is also available on Facebook and may be cross posted.

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Video (Embed Only do not download)

Photographed in Auckland at Starship and Edited by Photoshop Master, Ben Shirk from the USA

This Media Centre is provided for use with permission

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Finished Photos from Around the World - Feature Album

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Unless not specified on this site (info bar) please credit each image with the specified caption (ie Edited by Ben Shirk)For an images not attributed to an artist edit please credit: The Heart Project -

Image Credit Requirements: Unless not specified on this site (info bar) please credit each image with the specified caption (ie Edited by Ben Shirk)For an images not attributed to an artist edit please credit: The Heart Project -

Quotes available for publication

"We couldn't have done this without the support of our photo industry partners. Nikon have been amazing, not only helping cover costs, but supplying equipment, and also turning up personally to help in the different locations. We have been blown away by their generosity". - Karen Alsop - Project Director

"I am honoured to be part of this wonderful project. It is so overwhelming to see all the volunteers working so hard to give these children an unforgettable experience. Karen did a tremendous job running this project! I hope we can take part of this project next year in the Dutch hospitals." - Angelo Van Der Klift - Remote Editor, Photographic Digital Artist

"It was an absolute privilege to work on your project. It’s not often I get to use my skills to bring , little joy to someone in need. It was also an appreciated opportunity to remind me that there are always folks out there going through hard times that could use a little love." - Lisa Carney - Photoshop Master Editor

"Some of these families have shared with us that they've never had a family photograph before. This is their first professional family portrait and it means so much to them." - Karen Alsop - Project Director

"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 - Master Photoshop Editor

"I think what Karen and her team do is magical. It's really great anytime we get an opportunity to use our skills for something that helps others feel positive. I love what her team has done as visual storytellers, and being so imaginative. As a parent, it really touches my heart to know the good they are doing." - Mark Heaps - Photoshop Master Editor

"It's been such a privilege to be involved with the Brisbane sessions for Christmas Wish. The kids and their families have been the most positive, patient, grateful people you could hope to meet, and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to bring them some magic for their Christmas!" - Kris Anderson - Master Photoshop Editor

"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 - Photoshop Master Editor

"Christmas is a time where the world celebrates family, and being together. But many of these families struggle with being in and out of hospital, often seperated for long periods. The purpose of Christmas Wish is to take children out of their situations and bring them some hope and joy during this season." - Karen Alsop - Project Director

"The sense of community amongst the volunteers was incredible. No matter what role we were playing, we were all working towards this wonderful common goal of giving children and their families something to smile over and enjoy when they are facing Christmas in a hospital bed.

Mostly we didn't meet in person but the sense of cammeraderie and support and joy of using what we do for this amazing project was always present even over the computer cables with 1000s of kilometers separating us! Sign me up for next year!" - Charm Hauraki - Lead Remote Editor

"Karen and the Heart Project team provide an absolutely incredible experience to our patients, their families and the staff of the Monash Children’s Hospital. I have the privilege of assisting Karen and her team on the day, and have seen firsthand how the Heart Project team along with Santa directly impact our patients. The experience of a child seeing Santa is moment that radiates beyond their happiness, and the warm smile of a parent seeing their child happy – to the hearts of all volunteers and staff during this wonderful moment. When Santa has to go through a ward to visit a patient who can’t get out of bed, I have trouble knowing who is more excited to see him – the patients, their parents and families or the staff.

The unique work Karen and the Heart Project do, provides such a positive lasting memory to our patients and their families, and for that we are forever grateful. I would like to thank Karen, the Heart Project team, and of course Santa Claus for their time, dedication and passion in supporting the Monash Children’s Hospital." - Basem Kerbage - Monash Children's Hospital

"The organisational aspect of this project took 3 months, many late nights. We needed to ensure the remote teams had everything they needed to run smoothly. I set up a team hub on where our volunteers could access lists, instructions, training videos and checklists.

This also became the space where the finished images were shared with the families. A project of this magnitude requires a lot of systems and I'm thankful for time that Smugmug saved me in helping the whole thing run smoothly." - Karen Alsop - Project Director

Behind the Scenes around the world - Photos

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Unless not specified on this site (info bar) please credit each image with the specified caption (ie Edited by Ben Shirk)

For an images not attributed to an artist edit please credit: The Heart Project -

Before and After (for sliders)

  • Edited by Lisa Carney - Before
  • Edited by Lisa Carney - After

Team Photos

Behind the Scenes Video Footage (RAW)

Celebrity Editors Gallery

Image Credit Requirements: 

Unless not specified on this site (info bar) please credit each image with the specified caption (ie Edited by Ben Shirk)

For an images not attributed to an artist edit please credit: The Heart Project -

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

Find out more about the Celeb Editors here

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

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