• Mia Lukeman-Knight

The Proposal: The Fundamentals of Self-Belief: Final Major Project

At its core, my chosen subject matter is the battle of self-belief overcoming self-doubt. “It has become apparent that my friends and family sometimes lack the encouragement to achieve their dreams” (Knight, 2020, Blog 1). Whether it's a new job or a question of mental health it seems that, where confidence should be, there is anxiety. Of course, we always see the best in each other, the potential that you possibly do not see about yourself. “This is the perfect opportunity to express my frustration and turn it into productivity” (Knight, 2020, Blog 2). My motivation stems from my loved ones, I hope to show them through my project, that they are capable of anything.

My primary objective is to produce a series of portrait photographs that represent my participants positively, I will do this by using semiotic theory to convey deeper meaning such as recognising self-awareness. I will do this by collaborating with my subjects, “finding their best qualities, and showcasing them to inspire others” (Theory, 2020). Furthermore, I will achieve these objectives by following a strict schedule and effectively communicate with participants. I intend on producing six portraits divided into three pairs, each set holding its own concept. Photo one within each pair will display the self-doubt theme, and photo two will display a self-confidence theme. To do this, I need to ensure that the planning of mise en scene and editorial aspects are altered accordingly for each photoshoot.


  • Theory research:

Exploring the importance of self-belief to society has provided a huge amount of research that has developed my project. For example, Author Lucie Hazen, a mental health expert, states that “Lack of self-confidence is one of the worst scourges of our society, it is estimated that it affects 80% of all social classes and generations” (Hazen, 2017). This demonstrates why my project has an appealing concept because “it projects the need for encouragement within our culture” (Knight, 2020, Blog 3). My research, as well as personal experience, suggests that the average person will be able to relate to my project.

  • Technique research:

I will be using photography as my tool to express my vision and throughout this journey I have advanced my skills by conducting regular practice shoots to prepare for the day of production (See in blog 4 & figure 2). However, my main point of call regarding research has been based on communication with participants, as this is the main driving point of my project. I particularly enjoyed the Annie Lebovitz Masterclass, specifically episode 07 (Learn photography with Annie Leibovitz, 2019). This class taught me how to collaborate with models, that content is more important than technicalities, and to make concept my focus. Learning from this I have taken the time to consistently converse with my subjects about the project, this has been very effective as I am now at a point where they can see my vision and contribute towards it.

  • Artist research:

The aesthetic of this project has been inspired heavily by my role models in the industry. I intend to take on board key attributes from these artists and apply them to my work, “taking inspiration from cinema like Crewdson (Abrams, 2016), or to use subliminal messages like LaChapelle (Delsalle, 2014), texture like Olaf (Gallery, 2019) and tell a story like Leibovitz” (Knight, 2020, Blog 5 & 6). I am particularly drawn to Annie Leibovitz’s style specifically in her Las Vegas ‘ShowGirls’ portrait series, this is because I admire the way “she uses two photographs of each model to tell a coherent story” (Steinem, 2016).

“See your models as wonderful characters in a book, a persona provides a role but also it's a relief of their reality” (Learning photography with Leibovitz, 2019)

  • Artist case study:

As mentioned earlier, the structure of my photographs comes from the inspiration of Annie Leibovitz 'ShowGirls' series. The first photograph shows a typical snapshot of life as a raw representation and the other is a snapshot of life to its fullest potential; full of colour and symbolism of strength. The juxtaposition between the two photos provides realisation, that self-empowerment is obtainable to anyone, even if we need to be reminded from time to time. Applying this concept to my work, I see the purpose of these images to bring the realisation to my participants that they are fabulous. I hope that seeing a new reflection will help find their lost motivation; and I hope that this feeling will also translate to my audience.


  • Cinematography

The style of traditional portraits is to make facial expression predominant. Despite this, I believe the whole setting will tell my story more appropriately. An online photography forum helps me to identify the definition of a portrait to be “an artistic representation of a person; to display the likeness, personality, and the mood of a person” (Backlund, 2010). Leading on from this, I have chosen to shoot as wide as possible on a 24mm lens, as I believe that the larger canvas will allow me to add more detail (see figure 3). Furthermore, I will be using three-point lighting on set, dramatized and heightened to create high contrast making the imagery look more visually interesting. Filtered lighting will also be used to help establish a mood, cool tones within the negative photograph and warmer tones within the positive photograph.

  • Mise en scene:

Wardrobe will play a large role in my final photos; I want the pieces of clothing to be a part of the story I am telling. Motivational author Brian Tracey writes, “Dress for success. Emulate the best examples in your organisation and industry and adopt, while being individual” (Tracey, 2016). Brian states here that we can use clothing as a tool to navigate our mindsets, which is exactly what I want to do. Using wardrobe to express the characters can convey a deeper meaning, their aspirations. Makeup will also be used in the same sense; I plan to use heightened colours to represent outspoken emotion. Specifically, in the positive photos, the colours will assist in portraying confidence. Juxtaposed with the negative photos, where the colours will represent darker emotions such as anxiety. The location has been thought out extensively, for example, one of my pairs will be shot in an office where we can decode the story of two young women going through the process of navigating their careers. The office setting will assist in the storytelling, accompanied by appropriate props such as plants and posters. Postproduction will allow me to edit additional low-key details like wording and symbols.


  • Working Methodology:

To keep track of my development, I will be keeping an online workbook, as well as writing frequent blogs on my website. I have created a precise schedule that will allow me to stay organised throughout, which started in December 2020. As you can see, I plan to work in 3 stages, pre-production, production and postproduction, and each stage will be divided into particular tasks. I have also created further spreadsheets such as individual shoot plans, cost sheets, kit list, props list, and call sheets.

  • Props list:

Laptop, Dining room table, Toys, Paperwork, Clock, Pens, Cleaning gloves, Coffee flask, Fruit bowl, Table matt, Kids homework, Homeware accessories. Laptop, Paperwork, Clock, Pens, Coffee flask, Plants, Photocopier, Whiteboard, Paper stack, Laminator, Newspaper, Magazines, Money, Computer, Telephone, Books, Calculator, Fan, Coffee, Board Games, Makeup brushes. Car, Fishing rod.

  • Resources Required:

Sony A7S2, Canon C100, Lens: 50mm prime & 24-240mm, Dedo light kit, Coloured filters & DJI Ronin S.

  • Financial Requirements: £250

  • Ethical considerations:

Furthermore, if the project were to get larger, I may have to reconsider how participants contribute. This is because presenting someone’s persona to the public is very personal, and more precaution must be taken. I must have permission from participants to use their photos for any purpose, being cautious of this will avoid any discrepancies.

  • Anticipated problems & Further information:

Covid-19 has been a major inconvenience, meaning that the process of production has been altered for the foreseeable future. This means that learning how to conduct a production within the new government guidelines is a necessity. “To assist with this task, I go to Screenskills.co.uk and complete an online course” (Knight, 2020, Blog 7). I have learnt to ensure all equipment is sanitised, only allow one person making tea at a time and arrange lunch in the most open or outside space available (See Figure 4). As well as this the pandemic has meant that I have not been able to produce as high of quality of work as I would have liked. Leading to the fact that my preview element has been affected negatively, moving into the second chapter of my project I plan to concentrate on post production to better my skills and final artefact.

  • Anticipated Outcome:

For the final outcome I plan to arrange my portraits into their juxtaposing pairs, presenting them together as split-screen printed on A0 and framed as a poster. I want to use my project as a tool, to show the public the possibilities that confidence can offer. I imagine these photos to be used for artwork in wellbeing posters on the walls of community spaces such as university campuses or activity centres.

Please see below to view the whole proposal:

Download PDF • 54.71MB


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KNIGHT, M., 2020. Blog 1. What I’m trying to say is: Final Major Project. [Online]

Available at: https://www.mialukeman-knight.com/post/what-i-m-trying-to-say-is-final-major-project

[Accessed 22nd December 2020].

KNIGHT, M., 2020. Blog 2. Ideation progression: Final Major Project. [Online]

Available at: https://www.mialukeman-knight.com/post/what-i-m-trying-to-say-is-final-major-project

[Accessed 22nd December 2020].

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Available at: https://www.mialukeman-knight.com/post/the-importance-of-self-belief-final-major-project

[Accessed 2020 December 2020].

KNIGHT, M., 2020. Blog 4. Mia Investigates A new skill: Photography. [Online]

Available at: https://www.mialukeman-knight.com/post/mia-investigates-a-new-skill-photography

[Accessed 22nd December 2020].

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KNIGHT, M., 2020. Blog 6. Learning photography with Annie Leibovitz: Final Major Project. [Online]

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[Accessed 22nd December 2020].

KNIGHT, M., 2020. Blog 7. Mia Investigates Production Training: Covid-19. [Online]

Available at: https://www.mialukeman-knight.com/post/mia-investigates-production-training-covid-19

[Accessed 22nd December 2020].

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TRACEY, B., 2016. Personal Success (The Brian Tracy Success Library). Chapter 15: Dress for success. How my life changed. Page 73. AMACOM. ed. S.l.:s.n.


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