The Duchess of Cambridge is looking for compelling portraits that capture life amid the coronavirus pandemic.

By Simon Perry / People.com
May 06, 2020
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Kate Middleton talking with This Morning TV show in the U.K.

Kate Middleton announced a new photography project on Thursday that asks people to send in photos that capture the spirit, the mood, the hopes, the fears and the feelings across the U.K. amid the coronavirus crisis.

In collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, the royal mom of three is inviting people from all over the U.K. to submit a photographic portrait that they have taken during these extraordinary times. Participants are also encouraged to provide a short written submission to outline the experiences and emotions of those depicted in their photograph.

The most poignant portraits will be selected for an exhibit called, "Hold Still," which will be shown in a virtual exhibition in early summer.

“We’ve all been struck by some of the incredible images we’ve seen which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country,” Kate says in a statement. “Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.”

“'Hold Still' aims to capture a portrait of the nation, the spirit of the nation, what everyone is going through at this time. Photographs reflecting resilience, bravery, kindness – all those things that people are experiencing.”

The project will focus on three core themes: Helpers and Heroes; Your New Normal; and Acts of Kindness.

Kate has already taken a few photos that fit the criteria. Last month, she shared a photo of her youngest son, Prince Louis, making rainbow-colored paintings in support of National Health Service (NHS) workers and other essential workers tackling the coronavirus pandemic across the country. And last week, she shared a birthday photo of daughter Princess Charlotte making food deliveries to their neighbors in Norfolk.

Kate, who is patron of the National Portrait Gallery, will take part in the curation of the exhibition, which she and the National Portrait Gallery hope to be able to show around the U.K. when the time and circumstances allow. Completely free and open to all ages and abilities, the images can be captured on phones or cameras and each image will be assessed on the emotion and experience it conveys rather than its photographic quality or technical expertise.

The collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery came from discussions between Kate and the museum. “It is something she is really driving,” a royal source says. “It focuses on the human story of lockdown and their experiences. It hopes to capture a moment in time.”

Princess Kate regularly shares photos she has taken of her children. She also took some emotional and compelling portraits of two Holocaust survivors with their grandchildren in January as part of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.

In an interview with ITV’s This Morning, which will air Thursday, Kate talks about some of the striking images that she has seen during the crisis that has helped inspire the project and how “they have resonated with her,” a royal source says.

Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery London, said in a statement, “Even if we are alone, we can all create something together. We are honored to partner with the Duchess of Cambridge on the 'Hold Still' project, which will provide an inclusive perspective on, and an important historical record of, these unprecedented times, expressed through the faces of the nation. The National Portrait Gallery reflects the history of Britain through the personal stories of the people who have helped to shape it. We are now inviting each and every person, across every city, town, village and home in the UK, to share their portraits with us in this unique collective endeavour.”

The palace hopes it will provide a snapshot “creating a collective portrait of lockdown which will reflect resilience and bravery, humor and sadness, creativity and kindness, and human tragedy and hope.”

“It will also act as a reminder of the significance of human connection in times of adversity, and that although we were physically apart, as a community and nation, we all faced and rose to the challenge together,” Kate's office says.

Submissions for "Hold Still" can be made between May 7 and June 18 at npg.org.uk.