Photograph: Robeccer McLean

Photograph: Robeccer McLean

No one likes to see or hear of very sick children - it's a universally common horror that most people try not to contemplate in everyday life. Yet the Australian Community of Child Photographers (ACOCP) is about to shed new light on the subject.

ACOCP is an entirely-volunteer service that provides family portraits of children that have been stillborn, died neo-natally, are terminally ill, or have been born very early.

Despite being taken at often sad times, the pictures we produce are often uplifting and are always treasured. 

Members of ACOCP's nationwide network of photographers, which include a number of Essential Baby members, go on location at any time of the day and night to various hospitals to do the shoots. They also supply prints and albums to the families free of charge.

Dawn and Shane Johnson's twin girls were born early at 27 weeks in April 2008. Sadly, their daughter, Ava was stillborn and daughter, Briana passed away at seven days old. ACOCP president, Jessie Broome photographed both girls at Monash Medical NICU. Since then, Dawn and Shane have been strong supporters of ACOCP.

"It means so much to me to have those pictures and the memories of both girls and it's wonderful to have the pictures of Ava as we didn't get to spend as much time with her as Briana." Dawn said.

"It was hard to look at them the first time as it was almost like reliving the last few hours of the day we had to say goodbye, but I am so glad that we were able to get them done and I cannot thank ACOCP enough."

Said Jessie Broome, "Above all else, these photographs represent beautiful memories of beautiful babies. Their pictures tell a thousand stories. Despite being taken at often sad times, the pictures we produce are often uplifting and are always treasured."

About the ACOCP

ACOCP is an Australian community organisation giving the gift of photographic memories to children in need and their families. We specialise in giving the gift of photographic memories to families who have had a stillbirth, premature baby, infant in the NICU or child with serious or terminal illnesses. Participating photographers will come to the hospital or your home at a time convenient to you and will help supply you with cherished photographic memories. There will be no charge for this service.

Update: ACOCP has changed its name to Heartfelt. You can read an article about Heartfelt and its services, or visit the website.