Mason (Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide) (Photo: Karen Alsop. Editor: Angelo van der Klift)
Every year, photographers and Photoshop artists come together to bring the magic of the holidays to sick children across the world. The heART Project is a collaboration between award-winning Australian photographer Karen Alsop from Story Art and a group of volunteer photographers from across the globe. This year, the group visited children in the United States and Australia and brought a little Christmas joy to families struggling with childhood health challenges.
Santa and his elves even made appearances when they could, making visits to children at the hospital. The volunteers who bring these holiday scenes to life dedicate hours to crafting a memorable image that also incorporates the interests of each child. For some families, it was the first chance to get a professional photo of their child, and for others, whose children are facing life-threatening illnesses, it might be the last opportunity to celebrate together.
That makes every photo much more than a simple picture with Santa. “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,” shares Karen Alsop, who first started the Christmas Wish project in 2016.
For families, Christmas Wish is a chance to escape the stress of the hospital and allow their children to experience the holidays. “These photos are beautiful and we will treasure them forever,” admits one family. “We have never been able to take our son for a photo with Santa, so this means a lot to us.”
Every year, volunteer photographers and Photoshop artists bring a little Christmas joy to children spending the holidays in the hospital.
After several years of social distancing, the heART Project was able to bring Santa into hospitals to visit hundreds of sick children.
While there, photographers snapped photos that volunteer editors spent hours transforming into special Christmas scenes.
James (Hummingbird House, Brisbane). James from Hummingbird House Brisbane, whose love of planes saw him transported with the power of Photoshop, to ride on a Virgin Australia plane wing with Santa Claus.
Photo and Editor: Karen Alsop
Bella (Monash Children's Hospital, Melbourne). Bella was born with Hirschsprung’s disease, a chronic bowel condition. Bella has been in and out of the hospital her whole life and when we visited she was extremely unwell. Bella comes from a family of renowned singers and musicians. Her green screen photo was transformed, just like a Hollywood movie, and Bella and her sister Millie can be seen performing on the Puffing Billy Railway platform with Santa joining in.
Photo and Editor: Karen Alsop
Isaiah (Perth Children's Hospital)
Editor: Ben Shirk
Every photo incorporates the interests of the children, who were interviewed with their families during the process.
Olivia (Monash Children's Hospital, Melbourne). When the team visited Olivia's hospital room they were awestruck by her artistic talent. Olivia's room was filled with art, from hand-constructed balls then illustrated by Olivia, to a large, almost finished painting of a stunning mountain lake landscape. Karen Alsop photographed Olivia's art creations and in Photoshop placed Santa and Olivia into her own work of art.
Editor: Karen Alsop
Grace (Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide). Grace who suffers from an autoimmune disease has been in and out of the hospital for the last couple of years. In 2021 the team was unable to photograph Grace in person as she was too sick, so Nicole, her mum, was guided by the team to take some phone photos of Grace. These were sent to our remote editors to turn into works of art. (Editor: Corey Mudge)
Grace was able to meet Santa in person this year, and the magic was real! Grace's image was sent to one of the leading Photoshop Masters in the world, Jesús Ramirez who has 1.9 million subscribers on his Photoshop Training Channel on Youtube. After going through a significant health challenge himself in 2021, Ramirez is even more connected with the project. He created a masterpiece for Grace who shared about how much she loves dogs.
Editor: Jesús Ramirez
“These photos are beautiful and we will treasure them forever,” shared one family. “We have never been able to take our son for a photo with Santa, so this means a lot to us.”
Amelia (Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide). Amelia, 14 years old, was very active in sports and dance prior to being admitted to hospital in July. Amelia was unable to move her body from the neck down. However, In just a few short months with determination and a bubbly personality, she has come such a long way and now has an artwork of her dancing with Santa.