Members of the public were invited to send pictures taken during the recent national lockdown for an online photography exhibition entitled Hold Still for the National Portrait Gallery.

The community project was fronted by the Duchess of Cambridge, who is the patron of the National Portrait Gallery, received more than 31,000 pictures. They invited people of all ages to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness.

This child is my spirit light. Picture by N for Hold Still at National Portrait Gallery

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.


Picture by Kamrul Hasan in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery


This was taken on the saddest day of our lives when our father died on the 22 March 2020. This was on the night of his death. We’d had a tough two weeks leading up to his death, with nurse and doctors giving us the worst news, that our father wasn’t going to live. He died of pneumonia.


Picture by Lyndsey Adams in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery

Mrs Fogg stood weekly, behind the glass, united with the village to clap for our heroic NHS and key workers as they battled the pandemic. A steadfast and prominent member of the village, Mrs Fogg is a lady who devoted her life to caring for others. She continued to show pride for her previous work and colleagues, every Thursday, during lockdown. Her own beauty and resilience shone through during her 100th birthday year. As part of the celebrations, a memory book was presented to her, by her family, to capture her wonderful life. During the commemorations of VE Day, we quietened our hearts and stood in silence for Mrs Fogg, and all others who served to give us the life we know and love today. As Mrs Fogg was at her window, I asked if she would share her memory book photographs with me. She happily obliged, and there we stood, at either side of the glass, viewing her life in pictures. Before I returned to the confines of my house, I asked to capture this special moment with my tremendously inspirational neighbour.

Picture by Julia Aoulad-Ali and Kamal Riyani Wilsden in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery


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.


Picture by Terry Harris in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery


Captain Sir Thomas Moore completed 100 lengths of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise money for NHS charities. Having captured the public imagination, the total he eventually raised was over £32m. In recognition of his achievement, Moore was given the honorary title of colonel on his birthday and was awarded a knighthood by Her Majesty The Queen, which was bestowed on him at a special outdoor ceremony in the grounds of Windsor Castle in July 2020.


Picture by Roshni Haque in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery

Every year, following the holy month of Ramadan, we are used to celebrating Eid-Ul-Fitr, starting the day with congregated prayers at the Mosque, enjoying a special Eid breakfast as a family and wearing our best clothes. We then spend rest of the day visiting the houses of our loved ones, sampling each other’s food and taking selfies! However, this Eid was very different, respecting lockdown restrictions meant that there were no prayers at the Mosque, no Eid hugs, and no time spent with our extended family and friends. Despite the unusual circumstances, as a family we found that we had time to reflect upon our faith and how much we value the health and safety of each other more than anything. We hope that this time next year, we will be able to embrace one another and make new memories, remaining humble from our experience in 2020. This is our socially-distanced family photo from Eid-Ul-Fitr 2020.

Picture by Rimran Janjua in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery

This photograph, taken on 20 June 2020, captures love and connection during lockdown. It shows my sister-in-law with her grandmother (Dadi in Punjabi) meeting after months of being apart. In this moment I felt the depth of love they feel for each other, captured by both the joy and longing in their eyes. Separated by a window but connected by love.



Picture by Verdant aged 12 in Hold Still for National Portrait Gallery

My sister Aurelie, use to go to ballet class once a week. But because of lockdown she cannot do so. So, she is now doing her ballet class over Zoom. I find it unremarkable now but, few months back, no one would have thought to do it this way. This picture was taken while she was practicing ballet in our London home and my grandmother is watching her. The picture has lots of contrast such as my Indian grandmother wearing a sari, watching my younger sister dancing western dance, wearing a western ballet dress. Also the picture shows different generations and future technology coexisting in our modern English house with wooden floors and traditional wallpaper. Looking back at the photograph now I feel this new way of living is going to stay for a while.

You can view more of the images for the National Portrait Gallery here: