On May 7th, 2020, The Duchess of Cambridge launched a national community photography project aiming to capture the “spirit, hopes, mood, fears and feelings” of the UK during the continued unusual period we’re all living because of this global pandemic. She appeared on “This Morning with Phillip and Holly” to talk about the project:
In early June, even The Countess of Wessex contributed to “Hold Still” by submitting her own photo taken while she was at an engagement during volunteers week!
📦 Packed with love
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) June 4, 2020
A week before submissions closed, Kensington Palace posted a video of The Duchess of Cambridge sharing some pictures that had been submitted up to that point:
With one week before the entry window closes for the 'Hold Still' project, The Duchess of Cambridge shares some of the amazing images and stories that have been submitted so far.
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) June 11, 2020
At the end of August, Kensington Palace revealed the other individuals who joined The Duchess of Cambridge on the judging panel along with revealing that they had received 31,598 submissions!
Introducing the #HoldStill2020 judging panel:
• The Duchess of Cambridge
• Director of @NPGLondon, Nicholas Cullinan
• Writer and poet, Lemn Sissay MBE
• Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May
• 2018 Portrait of Britain Winner, Maryam Wahid pic.twitter.com/OXBz2i6b89
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) August 30, 2020
And finally, on September 14th, the selected 100 photos were revealed in a “gallery without walls”- a digital exhibition!
Today's the day!
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 14, 2020
The Duchess of Cambridge showed a few images to Her Majesty The Queen during their annual family holiday in Scotland and Her Majesty released a statement on the day of the reveal!
Today the final 100 images for #HoldStill2020 have been unveiled.
The Queen has sent a message of congratulations to the 31,598 people who submitted an image to the project. pic.twitter.com/7RfHvT4jSp
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 14, 2020
You can view all 100 images on the online exhibit here and I’ve picked my top 20 (in no particular order) below!
Be Safe Daddy X #6/100
CERI A. EDWARDS
NEWPORT, SOUTH WALES
“This picture was originally a piece of work set for our daughter during lockdown. Poppy struggled with her dad having to go to work, as a paramedic throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and she worried about him each time he left to go to work. Poppy loves a cuddle and this happened to be a special moment between them just before my husband left to go on a night shift”.
Where’s Grandpa? #8/100
“The moment when my daughter, Gaby, could embrace her grandmother, Teri, for the first time, together with her mother Vanessa, a month after her grandfather Kevin FitzGerald died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) at the Royal Brompton Hospital on 19 April 2020. ‘Where’s Grandpa?’, they whispered as they cried. Then Gaby, without hesitation, smiled and pointed to the trees outside the window where he had spent his last weeks, comforted by the view of St Mary Abbots Church, where he had been baptised 66 years earlier. In this time of social distancing and lockdown, it is a hug between three generations collectively mourning the loss of a grandfather, father and husband”.
Loss of Lifestyle, Not Life #10/100
“We are victims of domestic abuse, living in a refuge. My child is trying to cope with the loss of her lifestyle, pets, school, friends, activities along with the Covid-19 isolation and missing the hugs of family. Yet…. she has made cards for the elderly to encourage them to keep smiling and keep safe. This child is my spirit light. My daughter was sitting playing with her toys, on the window sill, window open, looking out”.
Shielding Mila #15/100
“We took the decision as a family to isolate Mila at home with myself in the week prior to lockdown. After trying to find an alternative solution we took the difficult decision to isolate in different households to protect Mila, who at this point was only 4 months into her chemotherapy journey for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. As Mila’s dad, Scott, had to continue to work and her big sister Jodi still attend school, we could not risk the possibility of infection being brought home, so they would visit every day at the window. At first Mila did not understand why Scott could not come inside, and would ask him ‘why can’t you come in Daddy?’ This photograph was taken on the first day of separation. After seven weeks of temporary separation and after being furloughed from his job, Scott was reunited with Mila. Looking back, I’m so proud of my daughter and how far she has come, the level of resilience Mila has shown during this unprecedented time is truly remarkable”.
A video of Mila talking about a “real life” princess choosing her photo:
WATCH: 4 year old Mila who is one of the 100 finalists in Kate’s #HoldStill2020 told us: “There is a real life Princess who picked my picture. The Queen knows about everything, Everyone in this whole entire world will see my picture.”
Such a star ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/yMlKSIYNC0
— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) September 14, 2020
Prayers For Our Community #18/100
THE REVD. TIM HAYWARD AND BETH HAYWARD
“When it was announced church buildings were to be closed to the public to reduce the transmission of the virus, I wanted to assure our community that although we couldn’t gather physically, their photos in church were a symbol that they and their loved ones were still very much in our thoughts and prayers”.
Generations Apart #29/100
JULIE AOULAD-ALI AND KAMAL RIYANI
WILSDEN, WEST YORKSHIRE
“My daughter Sarah is showing her housebound grandfather the 12-week scan photograph of her first baby. She had the scan a few days earlier and drove to her grandparents’ house so she could stand outside and show it to them”.
Home-Schooling Going Great #33/100
“Trying to work and home-school when you have a 3-year-old and an 11-year-old is an exercise in tuning out the noise. One might say – ‘Let it go…’ Taken in our home, at the multitasking table”.
Funeral Heartbreak #35/100
BONNIE SAPSFORD AND FIONA GRANT-MACDONALD
“My brother, Barry, lives in the Lake District and could not travel to be with his family when our beloved Gran died of Covid-19 on 3 May 2020. Her cremation took place on 13 May in Edinburgh with only 8 people in attendance – and Barry had to watch it live online – but we were so proud he suitably dressed for the occasion. His wonderful partner, Bonnie took this powerful picture and sent it on to us. The family all missed him greatly and our hearts were shattered at the realisation that our grandmother’s first grandchild could not be with her on her final resting day”.
Lockdown Wedding #39/100
DONNA DUKE LLANDE
BISHOPS STORTFORD, HERTFORDSHIRE
“We had to cancel our wedding because it was obvious it would have been impossible for it to have gone ahead. It didn’t feel right, though, to not enjoy the day when it came around. So we dressed up with our children and celebrated together. It was a fun and memorable day and it kept a positive spin on what could have been viewed as a depressing situation”.
Bedtime Stories with Grandma #49/100
The hardest thing during lockdown for my 4-year-old daughter, Isobel, was that she missed being read stories by her grandma, so every few nights her grandma read her a bedtime story via a video call until she drifted off to sleep, dreaming of when they will meet again. They have such a close bond so it was really lovely to see that they could still connect during lockdown as they missed each other so much.
The Look of Lockdown #51/100
“This is my lockdown pal, Pepter. Lockdown has forced a large majority of us into mandatory stillness. Some may see this as a blessing, and others a curse, because limited activities means limited distractions from our thoughts, worries and ultimately ourselves. This picture is a representation of our daily dose of daydreaming that we do while we watch the world go by without us. Be kind to yourselves during lockdown and use this stillness to explore any uncomfortable feelings that may have arisen. They have probably always been there but only now have we got the time and space to truly acknowledge them and listen. We’ve felt lonely, sad, worried, confused, anxious and everything in between, but we are grateful for every key worker, our health, and for the humanity and empathy that has grown out of this dreary time”.
PRIMROSE HILL, LONDON
“To be told that your A-level exams have been cancelled may seem like a dream come true. However in reality it’s far from the truth. The class of 2020 have experienced disappointment at so many levels. Exams cancelled. Graduations and proms cancelled, not knowing how their university life will look. During lockdown I feel that there was not enough said about the disappointments that many of these students have had to face due to the Corona virus. In my opinion, they are the Silent Heroes. They will be the ones facing the ‘New Normal’ as they step into their chosen paths after leaving school. I feel they went unnoticed in the main during this difficult time. However, they have also been one of the most affected and most patient groups.”
MARCELA (AGED 17 YEARS)
“During lockdown, my mum had to become a primary school teacher for my brother. This moment captures one of the few times my brother was eager to do his homework. Through this photograph, I wanted to convey a warm feeling of when family is together.”
I Can’t Breathe #70/100
PAPAJGUN (JAMAL YUSSUFF-ADELAKUN)
”My daughter and I have bonded and created previously when it comes to photography, but never before have we both used the medium of photography to talk about racial injustice or racism. For me, this was a new way to have that conversation with her.”
End of a Night Shift #76/100
KYLE DAVID TALLETT FRPS
“During the pandemic, my staff were split into small teams, we worked 12-hour alternate day and night shifts. Early on, I wanted to record my team in action, something to give them at the end to remember our experiences by. I did this and it was popular. On this day, I was leading the day team. I walked in to take handover from the night team that Allen was leading; as I sat opposite him and I thought: ‘There’s a picture’: a determined healthcare worker at the end of a trying shift. My staff come from all over the world, we are a real international unit. As such we are a great team, really tight and we got tighter as the pandemic progressed. I never saw panic at work by anyone – no matter how bad things were, I only saw a calm professionalism. I think this picture captures this. It reminds me of good colleagues and I cannot put into words the feelings towards my team, I don’t need words, this image says it all.”
Without Help, Without Hope #78/100
“A raw picture of the hopelessness and desperation I feel during this lockdown, as a shielded person with leukaemia. COVID-19 has taken far more from me than leukaemia has. Stuck on statutory sick pay, facing losing everything I worked hard for, gets too much sometimes. I was training to be a pharmacy dispenser before the lockdown began and had taken less than a week’s sick leave from work during and after my diagnosis. Then COVID-19 struck and having to shield cost me everything I had worked hard for. I know this is not a positive photograph, but it is reality for many people in my situation. It is my new normal and I felt compelled to photograph myself in that moment, perhaps so that someone would see me.”
Mum’s 100 Birthday Lockdown Chat #81/100
“My mum’s excitement on her 100th birthday having received a card from Her Majesty The Queen, with whom she shares her birthday, and celebrating by chatting on the computer video with all the family during the Coronavirus lockdown.”
In the Workroom of Suzanna and Florence Sweryda #83/100
BRIGHTON, EAST SUSSEX
“Throughout the lockdown, Suzanna and her daughter Florence have been working together to make scrubs for the NHS in collaboration with the Brighton Scrub Hub. As part of my reaction once lockdown restrictions were relaxed, I made portraits of makers and craftspeople who have been making scrubs and PPE for the NHS and key workers. It was also important for me to get back to work and learn to make portraits in a socially distanced way. This image was made with the doors open at the end of Suzanna’s work room whilst I stood in the garden. It was a moment of calm as they were working on their latest batch of scrubs.”
Clapping For Mummy and Daddy (Our Heroes) #89/100
NICOLE PAIGE WALTERS
“Thursday nights at 8pm held a new meaning in the UK with clapping for the NHS, carers and all the key workers out there. With rainbow pyjamas on, Iris and Lucas set their sights on clapping louder than the whole street and yelling ‘THANK YOU MUMMY AND DADDY’. Being frontline workers is hard but rewarding and seeing your children so proud of you makes it all even more worthwhile”
“This is Akuac. I met her at Black Lives Matter protest at the U.S Embassy in London and asked to take her picture, so she took off her mask and stood for me. We’ve been friends since and I hope we will be for many years to come. Her strength and spirit is beautiful and unique. For me, the image reminds us that all of ours are. Every single one. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. The countless others that we know of and that we don’t. I hope that the new normal after COVID-19 is kindness, equality, compassion, love. I hope the new normal is really seeing what’s important-looking after each other and the planet. If this pandemic has taught us anything it must be that all we need really is the wellbeing of our loved ones. It wasn’t shopping centres, or flights around the world or buildings that we were used to socialising in that we really missed in lockdown – it was humans. Our human connection is the most important thing we have. I hope that we can keep this feeling going far beyond 2020.”
This final one is by far my favorite. It demonstrates how people left their homes, keeping safe from one pandemic, and headed to the streets to protest another pandemic.
Congratulations to all the final 100! All the photos were spectacular. Another congratulations to the National Portrait Gallery, the judges, and of course The Duchess of Cambridge on a fantastic project!