Hold Still selection process

The Selection Process


The Princess of Wales was joined by a panel of judges to select 100 final images from the 31,598 submissions. The judges assessed the  images  on  the  emotions  and  experiences  they  convey rather  than  on their photographic  quality  or  technical  expertise. Their aim was to select images which create a collective snapshot of the nation over the past few months and reflect resilience and bravery, humour and sadness, creativity and kindness, human tragedy and hope.

The judges were:

The Princess of Wales

“I’ve been so overwhelmed by the public’s response to Hold Still, the quality of the images has been extraordinary, and the poignancy and the stories behind the images have been equally as moving as well. So I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has entered and taken part. And a big thank you to my fellow judges. I hugely appreciate the time and dedication that they have shown towards the project.”

Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery

“We have been astounded by the huge number of incredible photographs that have been submitted to the Hold Still project. Selecting the final 100 images has not been an easy task and my thanks go to all my fellow judges for agreeing to take part. We hope that through this project we really will capture a portrait of our nation, reflecting our collective and individual experiences during these unprecedented times.”

Lemn Sissay MBE, writer and poet

“I didn't expect the judging process to be so emotional. As I studied the portraits in this most public crisis I was drawn into the most private moments.  A nation through portraiture. Intimacy and inspiration, bravery and hope, determination and love and loss and laughter... We have been in this together and in these portraits of private struggles and victories, the quiet moments, the tears and laughter are caught on camera for ever in Hold Still.  It made me proud to be British. It made me proud of my fellow citizen. It made me remember who we are and what we have been through. I didn't really know until now."

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England

“I was thrilled to be asked to join the panel for Hold Still. We’ve all been affected by COVID 19 - by lockdown, disruption to work, and to home life. We’ve seen and applauded nurses, midwives and all health and care staff for their extraordinary work during the past months. These photos offer us a peek into how the general public has felt and dealt with the impact of the virus at a personal level. A very moving insight into the extraordinary stoicism and solidarity that has brought us together as a nation.”

Maryam Wahid, photographer

"It has been a phenomenal opportunity to be a judge for Hold Still. A lot of things have happened during the coronavirus lockdown and to see the emotions and experiences of people have been extraordinary. I am so overwhelmed by the heroic work done during this time by the NHS, volunteers and essential workers. The lockdown has affected all of our lives and we will have our own experiences of it. For me, every single image submitted has a narrative and is a valuable photograph. All of the images taken in this time are evidence of how lifestyle, celebrations, relationships, birth, death and religious festivities drastically changed during the coronavirus pandemic in Britain."


Discover how the judges selected their final 100 images:


Explore the final 100 portraits


This project is being supported by international law firm
Taylor Wessing, long-time sponsor of the National Portrait Gallery.

This project is being supported by international law firm
Taylor Wessing, long-time sponsor of the National Portrait Gallery.