These sick children thought it was just a simple  Santa Photo

But it turned into something magical thanks to Photoshop and this digital artist

It's Christmas... Silent Night echoes through the shopping centres, there's a Santa Claus on every corner. Celebrations fill the air. It's a time for family, love and joy. At least for many of us... Not so for those unfortunate families who have loved ones living out their days in the confines of a hospital ward.

#sickchildren receive a #magical #santaphoto that frees them from #hospital with @adobephotoshop

Click to Tweet

When Hospital is Home

While the outside world sings joyfully, there are many families just struggling to make it through the night, unsure of what the future holds.

It was this understanding that led Photographic Digital Artist, Karen Alsop, to establish The Christmas Wish Project. After a year of bringing joy to families across Australia through The heART Project, Karen knew she wanted to do something special for many families struggling through the Christmas Season.


Shane Melaugh

Christmas is a joyful time, a time I love to celebrate with my family, but not everyone has that blessing. I’ve always felt for the children in particular who are unable to leave the hospital during this season because at a time when the world is joyful, their pain is even more evident. I wanted to give them a gift that brings hope and I wanted to free them, at least in a creative sense, from their IV lines, monitors, from the confines of the hospital ward and the reality of their situation. My main aim was to rekindle their faith of what the future holds for each of them.

Karen Alsop - Story Art

BTS Photography by Victoria McKay

15 hour day marathon for this team of angels

The 15 hour day started for Karen Alsop and her team of Elves at 8:00am on the 29th of November. The crew, including the real Santa Claus arrived at Monash Children's Hospital and set to work constructing the Story Art studio within the confines of an empty room in Ward 41.

Once the studio set was ready, each family was invited one by one to meet Santa, and have a photo with him in the Christmas studio.

What they didn't know was that this was more than a standard shopping centre Santa set up. The magic was only just beginning...

The Photoshop Magic Happens

After the 30 photos were captured the team elves set up their production line, working fast to create individual artworks for the children.

Karen worked her magic, compositing each child into a beautiful handcrafted scene (made up of her own photography and hours of preparation work in Photoshop). As soon as she completed a piece, it was sent through to print. The assembly line concluded with each artwork being cut, framed, labeled and wrapped, ready for the special delivery that night.

Unable to leave his bed Arthur's magic takes place in his hospital room

Some of the children, like Arthur below, were unable to leave their rooms for the photoshoot, so Karen photographed them in their beds with a special visit from Santa. She later transported these children to a magical land, where they could imagine they were free of their IV Lines, monitors and beds.

When everything was ready, Karen, Santa and her team began their special deliveries throughout the ward. When the children and their families unwrapped their unique artworks, they were completely astounded by the surreal results.

13 year old Miah's imagination ran wild Vicky posed as a Reindeer

Newborn Sarvi entered dreamland with Santa in his cosy living room

17 year old Brittany although unable to move her arms or legs went on a wild adventure ride with Santa on the reins


The Results

Every family, every life was touched by this team of angels. To escape from the confines of the hospital for even a moment, is a distant dream for some of these very sick children. Now, thanks to Karen Alsop's photography and photoshop mastery, each child has a picture of happiness, a place they can escape to.

During this Christmas season, there is a place they can visit, if only in their imagination for a moment, where there is no pain and no sickness.

A happy place. A place of joy.

Shane Melaugh

My image transported me to a place far away from all the worries of everyday, it portrays a very special memory and captures a good moment while in hospital, something to remember, rather than something I wish to forget.

Brittany - 17


Would you like to learn how to create imagery like this?

Visit Karen's Education site to watch the Video Tutorial on HOW this was accomplished

Proudly Supported by

​Adobe Australia and New Zealand

Kayell Australia​

Little and Trivial Events (Santa Claus)

Art Defined

Wacom Australia

EIZO Australia

Canson Infinity

Epson Australia

Tether Tools​

With thanks to

Adam Cubito - Creative Producer​

Victoria McKay (BTS Photography)​

Michael Marlborough​

Jessica Waghorn

Stuart Alsop

Ben Mailo

and the Monash Children's Hospital​

Read more about The Heart Project here:

Josh’s Journey Fundraiser
I first met Josh in 2016 through The Heart Project. Josh was one of our first Heart Project recipients, and[...]
4 boys, 4 stories of struggle and hope
The Tokley family have had more than their fair share of struggles. All four boys have been in and out[...]
Carousel Dreams for for children with Disabilities
I wanted to create something magical for children with disabilities and when I heard about the organization Riding for the[...]
Callum – He was the Bravest Boy Alive
Callum was a figher. 15 years old who suffered with Spinal Cancer and  a Brain Tumour, but despite it all[...]
Magical Santa Photos for Australian sick kids in hospital
I first met Aiden last year during our first Christmas Wish Project at Monash Children's Hospital. He came to us[...]
The Get Well Tree – a storybook for sick children
I love creating art that makes a difference. We've had so many opportunities to impact lives through the power of[...]

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match