For New Talent

If you have an interest or are just starting out in the business, below are some answers to some common questions when you are just beginning. Also below is some information on our unique services, due to our our 30 years experience in the business, that will be sure to help you stand out in the crowd.


Today, with Reality TV shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Dancing with the Stars, etc. as well as the huge emphasis placed on movies and home entertainment, the thirst for knowledge about the hottest actors, recording artists, models, designers, athletes, etc. is unquenchable. As a result, celebrity news is the number one human interest story in America today and the tie-in with fashion is unmistakable! Indeed, top fashion designers looking to promote their brands clamor to dress Hollywood stars and starlets for every TV/Film event and fashion magazines run cover stories on any actor or actress looking to promote a new project. Not surprisingly, there are as many actors and actresses modeling for the cover stories of fashion magazines as top models and this publicity machine shows no sign of slowing down. Consequently, If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a model or talent there has never been a better time to begin than TODAY! However, a career in modeling or entertainment is not an easy one to break into and you’ll need a solid plan if you want to achieve success. So how do I get started? Introducing Empire West Studios …


For starters, if you’re a qualified “model hopeful” you can’t afford to risk a potential seven figure career on snapshots or amateur pictures. You’ve got to set yourself apart from the competition to get noticed and a WOW factor portfolio is definitely “the” way to do it! You’ll need images that answer all a prospective agent’s visual questions about you while showing off your talent and ability in front of the camera with a great degree of FLAIR. You won’t want to look like a motionless still life but you will want to show action and energy in the form of creative movement and personality in your pictures? To get signed on the spot, you’ll want to walk in to an agency “client ready” with a knock-out punch portfolio, requiring little or no further development to start meeting clients.


The days of the single, smiling multi-purpose commercial actor’s headshot are long gone. Film and casting directors are looking for help when casting roles. Scorsese himself said in Interview Magazine, “…if they could have just helped us out a little by coming in looking a little bit like what the tone of the picture is.” Today, talent agents want to see portfolios showing not only headshots but full length performance fashion as well as in-character portrayal of an actor’s specialty (drama, comedy, sit-com, com-dram, etc.) ideally, almost like a film clip. This helps an agent and casting director fit the talent to the role and helps a TV/Film director to do the same. Agents also want to see that their talent can perform in still photos when it comes to promoting film projects in both fashion and culture magazines. As just about every fashion magazine on the newsstands has proven these days…actors, indeed, have become fashion models.

So exactly how do serious models and talent set themselves up to win?


Located in Tempe, AZ since 1995, Empire West Studios (EWS) specializes in outstanding Model & Talent Photography for Children, Teens, and Adults and has over 30 years experience in the field both in Tempe and in New York City. With clients coast- to-coast, we are the premier Model & Talent Photography studio in the Phoenix metropolitan area and one of the best in the nation.

We specialize in a non-contrived, action packed, studio based style of shooting called Performance Photography which is designed to show off your talent, give your new portfolio the WOW Factor and position you at the head of the pack with agents. Want proof? About 80% of our clients procure agency representation both locally and/or nationally. In addition, we’ve developed a unique variety of photography products such as our trademarked EWS Montages, EWS Twin Set,s and EWS Film Strips that will make your book SIZZLE and get the agents talking, smiling and SIGNING. Nobody Does It Better!

Hair & Make-Up, Wardrobe Styling, Performance Training, Image Editing, Custom Printmaking, etc. are all in-house and our list of top agency contacts and talent coaches will save you time, money and stress while producing serious results. Our work is reasonably priced and 100% guaranteed, we take all major credit cards and we have an A+ rating with the Arizona BBB.


The EWS Montage
If you really want to show agents and clients what you’re capable of doing, a three-page action packed EWS Montage will deliver the knock-out punch. Similar to a mini film clip, the EWS Montage delivers multi-image performance…involving all the action and expression you can muster…in a huge single image! Indeed, designed in narrative form, it flows over three full portfolio pages with the action literally jumping out of your portfolio into the viewers lap. Perfect for both models and talent, there is nothing that we have ever seen in a portfolio that can compete with this. If you can’t afford not to be impressive, there is nothing that can beat the attention grabbing power of the three-page EWS Montage.

EWS Twin Sets 
The little sister to the EWS Montage, The EWS Twin Set packs a different punch but with similar power in that it’s mission is to deliver a little slice-of-life narrative between twins but with one major exception…the twin sisters or brothers are both the same person, YOU! Designed either as a single or a double page spread, a EWS Twin Set creates a really fun double-take that gets the agents talking, smiling and signing! So hit ‘em with a double whammy…the EWS Twin Set!

EWS Film Strips 
Essentially a great way for actors to show their stuff, the EWS Film Strip is actually a performance requiring use of your acting skills. Since all of our actors perform during their photo shoots they’re mostly in character, especially for their headshots. When we notice a series of images during editing that are in sequential order, and exhibit completely different characterizations or emotions we make this into a EWS Film Strip. Make no mistake, these images are exactly the way they were shot and not stripped in via PhotoShop. This really appeals to actors since it’s like taking a film clip from a movie. Since the frame numbers  correspond to our digital images this tells an agent that you completed all your different characterizations in order and as fast as it takes to click the shutter. This is very impressive ammunition to have in your portfolio when you’re looking for representation. In short, with the EWS Film Strip, you’ll be loaded for BEAR!


The professional photography industry encompasses many different disciplines of specialty. Commercial Photography focuses on advertising and product shots for a wide range of clientele. Everything from cars to ice cream. Fashion & Beauty Photography also focuses on advertising, however, it also specializes in editorial work for fashion magazines and is strictly concerned with fashion and beauty related products. Corporate Photography deals primarily with annual reports for corporations and CEO portraiture. Portrait Photography also covers a wide spectrum but strictly deals with people and ranges from the local wedding and portait studio to celebrity portraiture for publicists and PR agencies. Generally, the farther away from the major cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix, Nashville, etc. the more of a generalist shooter a photographer must be. Likewise, in these major photography markets photographers can even specialize and become experts in highly specific areas.

Model & Talent Photography is a sub-specialty of the Fashion & Beauty genre in that all the same photographic techniques are used for both, however, the difference lies in the focus of attention and the end use. When making fashion or beauty photographs the photographer is ultimately trying to sell clothes or beauty products for a client or to highlight new styles in a magazine spread using professional models. Sometimes a client is after an overall mood using well known or controversial talent but most of the time the clothes come first to the point that, sometimes, the model’s face is not even visible in the picture.

Model & Talent Photography, however, is strictly focused on showing off the abilities of aspiring models or talent for the purpose of securing representation and work for them in the Fashion or Entertainment Industries. For this, clothes must be current, however not overstated or too trendy. However, the focus is always on the talent. Model & Talent photographs are packaged in a portfolio book for in-person presentations and as jpeg files on CD  for promotional use on the web to agents, clients and magazines via the Internet.


Walking into an agency cold is similar to just sending in a snapshot in that the odds for success are definitely not in your favor and most likely this move will end your career attempt before you even get started. Sure, every agent has their success stories about the girl who just walked in the door and swept them off their feet but I can assure you this situation is few and far between. Let’s look closer…

Let’s say you’re a 15 year old, brunette model type and walk into an agency without an appointment and without pictures. The receptionist sees you walk in and stops you in your tracks with “…sorry we’re only looking for blondes.” Or, “…the agent is not in now please leave a picture and we’ll call you if we’re interested. You say, “..but I don’t have a picture to leave…” and then the receptionist responds curtly…”oh well, sorry,” or some other dismissal rhetoric that they may come up with. In reality, the receptionist is not the decision maker but was told that the agent is not to be bothered because she is busy booking talent or swamped going through those dreadful snapshots. Of course no return calls are ever made to our model type simply because the right person didn’t get the information. A potential career is dashed before it got started. Of course, this is rather simplistic but it gives you the idea. Now let’s turn things around…

Our brunette model type has her portfolio shot at Empire West Studios (EWS). She is trained on how to make exciting, energy driven photographs and is also counseled on industry protocol with over 50 years of combined Empire West experience. We then produce and design her portfolio. Her select photos are then emailed to prospective agents. At the same time she sends a photo mailer to the same agents. Cross-marketing, so to speak. Once interest has been established, appointments are then arranged with the agents to see our her. At this point, our young ingenue has proven that she can model better than most before she even walks through the door and she has an appointment to see the interested agents. She’ll need to sell herself in person (commitment, character, personality and likeability) but her EWS portfolio will do most of the talking! Which way would you rather do it?

Only go into a prospective agent’s office professionally prepared with a great portfolio and with an appointment if you really want results!


If you think you’ll get to New York or Los Angeles or even a local modeling agency with a snapshot or even a headshot that’s just OK you’re in for a big reality check. Agents get hundreds of “snapshots” on a weekly basis, most of which don’t reveal enough information about a model/talent hopeful to make a decision properly. The other problem is that if you send in a snapshot, you’ll, most likely, be just one of the hundreds on the desk and get lost in the shuffle.

However, stunning work with impeccable styling and geared precisely to a model or talent’s particular market and abilities, exuding energy, mood and uniqueness, will stand out from the pack and get noticed every time.



If you are the type of person that figures…”if they like me that much…they should pay for my pictures”…I highly recommend you keep your day job! This.is your career…your business…the agents job is just to help you market and book yourself. It is the model’s or talent’s responsibility to get the best professional sales and marketing tools possible and when you’re starting your career. A great portfolio book and an impressive portfolio website , impressive images for emailing, including a great headshot, and full lengths should be considered serious investments.

Once you’ve signed with an agent, they’re going to hand you a list with their “approved” testing photographers. “Testing photographers” are traditionally photographers who are just learning and starting out themselves and looking to build their own portfolios. The “approved” part means their photos are “usable” by the agency but the cost factor will still be in the hundreds of dollars for a session. The problem is that since these are new photographers you may be lucky to get one or two “usable” pictures out of a session…sometimes none. There are some generalist pros that shoot for agencies on the side for extra money, but they still don’t specialize in Model & Talent Photography so there’s no guarantee of outstanding work with the correct hair & make-up and wardrobe styling for your markets and the cost will be, most likely, higher.

Even after you’ve secured representation, you’ll need to prove that you can do the job before a client will book you for serious money. You prove yourself. by showing outstanding photographs in your portfolio and you’ll need at least ten to fifteen great shots. With “testing” photographers, it could take you more than a year to put just a “usable” book together let alone a great book, with the cost factor now spiraling beyond your means. The other side of the coin is if you take too long putting an impressive book together, the agency itself will lose interest in working with you and eventually drop you. Getting an outstanding selection of photographs pulled together in a timely manner is of utmost importance if you’re serious about a career as a model or talent.

At Empire West Studios with the completion of your portfolio book and magazine layouts, you will not only be ready to get an agent within weeks but you will be ready for client bookings…what we call “client ready”…and we have the success stories and references to back that up! Nobody does it better!

Please call us now at 480-303-9359 to find out more about getting your new career started!


In the Fashion and the Entertainment industries it is primarily your photographs that get you through the door so that you can procure representation and start booking paying jobs. Most generalist pro and amateur photographers alike have tried their hand at Model & Talent work but few really know what it takes to make photographs that allow their clients to stand out from the competition.  Questions to be answered before shooting with a photographer are:  Does the photographer know fashion?  Is the Hair & Make-Up correct for the look?  Is the wardrobe styling correct for the market? At Empire West Studios one of our specialties is Model & Talent Photography and we are, indeed, experts at it. We have the knowledge and the experience that enables all of our clients to shine…and our work has that WOW factor edge that will get you through the agency door and into a new career! Yep…no doubt about it…in this business…Great Photos = Success!

Persistence:  “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; The world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge (I have this quote from Coolidge in a frame on my desk.)

Did you know that it took Gisele Bundgen, the highest paid and most famous model in the world, 42 times before she finally got signed by an agency.  Critics picked her apart.  Her nose was too big, her face was all wrong, etc.  Just think If she had stopped after 41 times she would not be who she is today.  Sometimes an agent will say “no” just to see if the model-hopeful comes back. If you really feel you have what it takes to be a professional model or a talent, get the necessary training, then invest in the most impressive photos and marketing materials that show your talent, get signed with a professional agent, make a marketing plan, be punctual and polite at all times and keep trying until you succeed.