The National Portrait Gallery wants your photos of the Covid-19 emergency

The British institution is calling for photographic portraits taken during the pandemic for its new mass project Hold Still.

7 May 2020


The UK’s National Portrait Gallery has launched an open call for photographic portraits taken during the Covid-19 emergency for a mass project titled Hold Still. Launched today and spearheaded by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, patron of the gallery, the project aims to “capture the spirit, mood, hopes, fears and feelings of the nation,” as it deals with the Coronavirus outbreak, to create a communal snapshot of the UK “as we hold still for the good of others”.

Anyone from the UK is invited to submit a photographic portrait taken during the pandemic, along with a short written description of the experiences and emotions of those depicted. The project will focus on three core themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness.

Submissions are open from today (7 May) until 18 June 2020. One hundred shortlisted portraits will then feature in an online exhibition, while a smaller selection will be shown across the UK later in the year. The gallery says 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”.

Director of the National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan says the project will offer “an inclusive perspective on, and an important historical record of, these unprecedented times, expressed through the faces of the nation”.

The Duchess of Cambridge 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.”


Aimée Goold: Self-portrait after a 13-hour shift treating Coronavirus patients


Peter Jolly: Alexis and David Brett with nine of their sons and baby daughter, isolating in their home in Dingwall

Hero Header

Tom Maddick / SWNS: Jack Dodsley, 70, dances with a carer in PPE

Share Article

About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.