Duchess Kate is putting out a call to the British, seeking touching photos they've taken during the coronavirus pandemic.
The former Kate Middleton, an avid amateur photographer and royal patron of Britain's National Portrait Gallery, announced Thursday in London that she and the gallery are launching "Hold Still," an ambitious attempt to capture a portrait of the citizens of the United Kingdom as they cope with lockdown during the coronavirus crisis.
The Duchess of Cambridge invited people across the U.K. to post their phone or camera snaps starting early Thursday (deadline is June 18th) via the gallery's website. Note to amateurs: Each image will be judged on the emotion and experience it conveys rather than photographic quality or technical expertise.
Those submitting pictures are asked to provide a short written description to explain the experiences and emotions depicted in their photographs. The project will focus on three core themes: "Helpers and Heroes," "Your New Normal," and "Acts of Kindness."
A shortlist of 100 pictures will be displayed in a "gallery without walls," a one-of-a-kind online digital exhibition. A selection of the images also will be shown across the U.K. later in the year.
In a statement, Kensington Palace described the project as an attempt "to capture the spirit, the mood, the hopes, the fears and the feelings of the nation" during the pandemic crisis, which has killed thousands of people, infected thousands more (including Prime Minister Boris Johnson), and placed much of the island nation under stay-at-home orders.
"'Hold Still' aims to create a unique photographic portrait of the people of our nation as we hold still for the good of others and celebrate those who have continued so we can stay safe," the palace said.
Kate and Prince William and their three children are in quarantine at their Norfolk country retreat, where two of them – Prince Louis, 2, and Princess Charlotte, 5 – recently celebrated birthdays captured in portraits taken by their mother.
One of Britain's morning chat shows, "This Morning," is scheduled to air a video interview with Kate talking about what she expects to see in the submitted pictures, including resilience, bravery and kindness by ordinary Brits.
Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said the museum was honored to partner with Kate.
“Even if we are alone, we can all create something together," he said in a statement provided by Kensington Palace. "(The project) 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 U.K., to share their portraits with us in this unique collective endeavor.”
The "Hold Still" project's "keep calm and carry on" quality is unmistakable in the palace statement, reflecting one of the main jobs of the royal family during times of crisis.
It will capture a snapshot of the crisis, "creating a collective portrait of lockdown which will reflect resilience and bravery, humor and sadness, creativity and kindness, and human tragedy and hope," the palace statement said.
"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 became patron of the 164-year-old National Portrait Gallery in 2012, the year after she married Prince William. Having earned her college degree in art history, she also has a longstanding interest in photography's power to capture emotions and stories.
In January, she took photographs of two Holocaust survivors with their grandchildren as part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust.
But she's much more well known for her enchanting photos of her children, taken to mark their birthdays and other special occasions. The tradition began with the birth of Prince George, who turns 7 in July.
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