Lisa Carney

Photographers Give Sick Kids A Magical Christmas In Case It's Their Last

Ryan Ford 14 Dec 2018

You know, one of the things you see on social media these days is everybody questioning whether a particular pic is real or if it has been photoshopped. Folks aren't wrong to ask, to be honest. There's so much photo manipulation out there, it's hard to tell what's real and what's phony anymore.

However, Photoshop does have its place in the world. Without digital image manipulation, we wouldn't have such awesome movies. And a group of big-hearted photographers have put it to a more noble purpose as well — giving sick kids a magical Christmas.

Christmas isn't the most wonderful time of year for everyone, but you can't say the photographic wizards behind The Heart Project aren't trying to help.

Mandy Smith and Karen Alsop

Since 2016, they've been bringing Christmas magic to kids too sick to hit up a mall Santa, creating a memorable pic with jolly old St. Nick using Photoshop magic.

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That first year involved just one hospital in Melbourne, Australia, but The Heart Project's Christmas Wish program spread rapidly.

Mandy Smith

For 2018, the Christmas Wish team involved 110 photographers in 10 cities around the world, taking pics against green screens and then inserting the kids into festive wonderlands.

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In Santa-like fashion, the Christmas Wish program visited each of the 10 cities in a short period of time.

Karen Alsop

Starting in Victoria, they took pics at hospitals in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth in Australia before moving along to Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch in New Zealand.

They rounded it out with stops in Canada and the U.K., photographing 200 kids in all in just a week.

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That was completely by design, according to The Heart Project's co-founder, Karen Alsop.

Ben Shirk

"This year, some might say more than ever before, we've witnessed a world that could do with a little bit more love," she said.

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Judging by the smiles in the pics, they've met their goal of spreading love.

Mark Heaps

And the smiles are what it's all about for the photographers, of course. "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," Karen said.

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For some of these kids, a magical picture with Santa is also their first ever professional portrait.

Jason Ulsrud

And, sadly, for some it will be their last as well. As quick as the schedule is, the emotions run high around these portrait sessions.

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And in the middle of it all is Santa himself, the original Santa from Melbourne, who is apparently amazing with the kids.

Estelle Trueman

The few times he hasn't been able to travel with the crew, local Santas have stepped in to fill his boots.

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The photographers and editors involved have all expressed joy just at being a part of this project.

Kris Anderson

Karen and The Heart Project are quick to recognize the help of many, many people in making the Christmas Wish possible, especially the volunteers and industry partners like Nikon, who have supplied both equipment and manpower.

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It's unfortunate that something like the Christmas Wish program is even needed, but it's heartening to know that so many people are so determined to bring joy to these kids.

Jesus Rameriz

There's still some magic left in Christmas, and it's because of good people doing good things.

h/t: The Heart Project

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