With their official YouTube channel only starting some time ago, the newest video posted on there is from the Duchess of Cambridge. Kate posted a video of her phone calls with the participants of her photography contest, Hold Still, telling one of the students who took part:: ‘I feel like I know you so well from your picture’
With the title ‘Cancelled’, the video features audio phone calls recorded from Autumn of last year, between Kate and the finalists of the National Portrait Gallery’s Hold Still photography exhibition.
Kate, who is an avid amateur photographer herself, started the Hold Still initiative last year during the lockdown and asked the public to submit their images which captured the period for digital exhibition.
Then she and another five judges were to select the best photos, with them having to go through 31,000 photographs that were submitted, with the Duchess revealing that she was ‘overwhelmed’ at such a response and that she felt that it was a ‘hard’ task to only choose 100 from all the entries.
During the five-minute-long YouTube video, a message flashes on up the screen saying: ‘Her Royal Highness wanted to speak to some of the finalists to find out more about the stories behind their photos.’
Then the video shows a photograph of Kate, casually dressed up in a Whistles blouse and black trousers, and a photograph of Niaz Maleknia, one of the participants, from Primrose Hill, London, and then a recording of their conversation follows: ‘Hello is that Niaz?’-Kate jumpstarts the conversation.
Another message then explains: ‘With exams, graduations and proms all cancelled due to the outbreaks of Covid-19, Romy, in a photograph taken by her mother Niaz, reminds us of the silent heroes that make up the class of 2020.’
Kate then continues: ‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you for sending in your photograph. We thought it was fantastic.’
Amateur photographer Niaz responds: ‘Thank you so much for selecting the photo, I was thrilled to take part in it. And you know, you’ve clearly got an amazing interest in photography. So yeah it was really, really, it was inspiring and I thought the briefs were really good.’
Niaz then notes that her daughter Romy is sitting right beside her, with a delighted Kate saying: ‘Hi Romy. I feel I know you so well just by looking at the photograph.
‘I think it’s so important you know that your mum’s really highlighted how much young people have been affected by lockdown and all of the disruptions that you had with work and with school and everything.’
The Duchess then continued to ask Romy about how the lockdown has affected her and her friends and how they were coping with these trying times.
‘It’s been quite difficult,’ the student replies. ‘I mean, I was in my last year of school so I was meant to do my A levels which is what the photo relates to. The photo was taken on what was supposed to be my last day of levels.
We had a virtual graduation which was very strange. It was a bit odd. It is what it is. It’s been OK.’
Kate adds: ‘We found it was really important and I think the judging panel too, to tell the story of young people. Obviously, there’s been so much disruption but also making sure and highlighting the support that they, and you, all need as well.’
The royal mentioned how she and her husband Prince William are interested in mental health, went on to ask Romy about how young people, in general, have been dealing with the changes brought on by the pandemic, with the student explaining: ‘To be honest, with mental health it hasn’t been great.
‘A lot of the people I know struggled. But I think it’s weird because I think people have become more open about it because it’s so common now that people are struggling with it and it’s natural to struggle with it in these circumstances. ‘
Kate agrees that everyone has ‘experienced something together’ in a way – adding there’s ‘no shame in talking about it.’
The duchess continues: ‘And that’s what we’ve been really keen to do, is break that stigma and try to start conversations around mental health. It’s great to hear that people are being a lot more open about it.’
In the video, Niaz gets the chance to explain to the royal how she got the inspiration for her Hold Still photograph, while also revealing that she came into photography ‘quite late’.
‘I just completed my M.A at LCC,’ she says in the phone conversation. ‘So I sort of keep a lookout and I read all the magazines and I heard about it, I think, on Instagram.
And I had actually been going around London. And at first, it was quite inspiring but then it became quite boring because it all just looks the same. And then when this came I just thought I just really wanted to take part.’
She goes on: ‘There were a couple of different shots of different scenes that could have worked. And I just thought this is one, you know, the young, the story of, sort of this class of twenty-twenty I just felt that had been overlooked.’
In response, keen amateur photographer Kate enthuses: ‘And compositionally it’s fantastically composed as well. I need to get some tips of you, obviously.’
At the end of the video, the Duchess praised the photographs for their structure and composition, jokingly asking Niaz to give her some tips on photography. It seemed that all three participants in the call had a great time, especially Romy, as she giggled until the very end.
This is only the first of multiple videos that the Duchess has teased to post on her channel in the near future, all featuring her calls with different finalists from her Hold Still project.