The Hold Still project, which is being run by London’s National Portrait Gallery, aims to depict the spirit and mood of the public as they adjust to life under curfew and the dark shadow of the coronavirus. Britain has paid a high price during the pandemic, and has suffered just over 30,000 fatalities, making it the worst affected country in Europe. The Duchess is inviting people from around the country to submit a photographic portrait that they have taken during these unusual times.
Participants are also required to submit a short written statement, outlining the emotions and experiences of those depicted in their photo.
The most poignant photographs will be displayed as part of an exhibition in the early summer, that will also be accessible online.
Kate said in a statement: “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.
“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 competition is completely free and anyone can take part, irrespective of age and ability.
The images can be captured on phones or cameras and will be evaluated on the emotion and experience that they convey, as opposed to photographic quality or technical expertise.
There are three key themes to the project, which are Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness.
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The Duchess, who is a patron of the National Portrait Gallery, came up with the idea after talks with the museum.
A royal source said: “It is something she is really driving.
“It focuses on the human story of lockdown and their experiences.
“It hopes to capture a moment in time.”
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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 honoured 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.”
In recent years, Kate has become a keen photographer, often sharing photos of her young family on special occasions like birthdays or first days of school.
It has become something of a tradition for Kensington Palace to release official portraits by the duchess to mark her children’s birthdays.
Last week, she shared a birthday photo of Princess Charlotte delivering food to their neighbours in Norfolk.
She also posted a photo of Prince Louis making a rainbow-coloured painting in support of NHS workers.
The Duchess further showcased her photographic skills in January when she took some moving portraits of two Nazi camp survivors with their grandchildren to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.