Troy Neff’s First Chapter: Thriving in Challenging Times

Troy Neff’s modeling career might have begun at the worst possible time, but things quickly turned for the better in an awesome way. This is his story.

Shirt by Sandro; T-shirt by Hugo by Hugo Boss; shorts by Y-3

Early 2020 was, in hindsight, definitely not the best time to start a career in the fashion industry. Of course, nobody knew back then just how bad it was going to be. So, it was with high hopes and expectations that Troy Neff signed up with STATE Management—a well-established modeling agency— in Los Angeles. And right after that, the world simply shut down. Fast forward half a year, however, and things took a surprising turn for the better when he was selected to be part of none other than Tom Ford’s spring/summer 2021 campaign and joined a shoot with the legendary designer himself. That certainly makes for an amazing origin story.

Shirt by Hugo by Hugo Boss; T-shirt by Versace; pants by Versace Couture; shoes by Vans

DAMAN: Hi, Troy. Awesome to have you with us. How are you doing these days?
Troy Neff: I’m doing great! I am healthy and summer is almost here, so I’m excited.

DAMAN: You’ve probably answered this question many times already, but can you tell us a bit about how your journey in modeling started?
Troy Neff: In January 2020, I really wanted to get into the fashion and do modeling, but I didn’t know how. I ended up walking in to the STATE Management office in Los Angeles, signed with them and they’ve helped take care of me.

Outfit by Bally

DAMAN: Now, we’ve also learned that your very first professional photo shoot was with none other than legendary designer Tom Ford for his spring/ summer 2021 campaign. How did that happen?
Troy Neff: Ironically, in the middle of the pandemic when there wasn’t much going on in L.A. for modeling, Tom Ford had me come in for a go-and-see where I met with Tom Ford and his team. From there, he chose to use me for his SS21 campaign.

DAMAN: Of course, that shoot happened with the pandemic in full force. What was it like trying to do the shoot with so many health and safety precautions set in place on set?
Troy Neff: Doing a shoot in the middle of the pandemic proved to be challenging because not as many people were allowed on set and the total the amount of people at the shoot was way more limited, but it wasn’t impossible. Everyone kept safe and stayed six feet apart.

T-shirt by Versace Couture; pants by Helmut Lang

DAMAN: What was it like working directly with a legend like Tom Ford? And were there any particularly memorable moments from the shoot that you can share with us?
Troy Neff: Tom Ford is a genius in his own right and being in his presence proved that. Beyond the beautiful clothing and eyewear, what fascinated me is how skilled he is with a camera and how very little he uses to create an amazing shot.

DAMAN: What was the biggest surprise about a professional fashion shoot set that really blew your mind?
Troy Neff: Nothing was too surprising. It was a great, streamlined experience and everyone at the shoot was very kind.

DAMAN: What would you say was the biggest challenge that you faced on set?
Troy Neff: At first, I was really nervous because it was my first ever professional shoot and honestly one of my first times behind a camera like that. But as the shoot progressed, I became more comfortable and got over those nerves pretty quickly.

Shirt by Hugo by Hugo Boss; T-shirt by Y-3

DAMAN: On the flip side, which parts of the job came naturally to you? Or in other words, which parts felt effortless?
Troy Neff: In general, shooting with Tom Ford was very effortless. The environment was extremely fun and friendly, and he knew exactly what he was looking for with each look/shot and once we found the shot it just took some playing around with different angles and poses to get what he wanted.

I want to create something that lives beyond me and impacts other people’s lives in a positive way.

DAMAN: Now that you’ve been at the other end of a fashion campaign, what would you say are some of the biggest misconceptions that the average person might have about how a fashion shoot is done or about modeling in general?
Troy Neff: I’m not sure of any misconceptions people may have about modeling or fashion shoots. If I had to point out one thing, it would be the amount of e ort and preparation that goes into creating each shot that ends up being used. Everything is very carefully cultivated.

Hoodie by Sandro; pants by Heron Preston

DAMAN: One thing we have noticed is that people often underestimate is the role of modeling agencies. Can you shed some light on this part of the job? For instance, what is it that an agency does and in what ways does it help a model’s career, etc.?
Troy Neff: If it wasn’t for my agency, I wouldn’t have gotten a shoot with Tom Ford. I cannot speak for all agencies as I’ve only been with STATE Management, but they play a huge role in finding me jobs. My agents are the ones that have the connections and relationships with companies and get to see the new projects or jobs that are available and decide if I would be a good fit for each. In my opinion, agencies are definitely underestimated.

DAMAN: Will we see you in any campaigns, shows or photo shoots in the near future?
Troy Neff: Yes, definitely. You’ll have to wait and see though!

My agents are the ones that have the connections and relationships with companies and get to see the new projects or jobs that are available and decide if I would be a good fit for each. In my opinion, agencies are definitely underestimated.

Hoodie by Polo by Ralph Lauren; visor by Polaroid

DAMAN: Besides modeling, what are you most passionate about right now? Any hobbies, sports, etc.?
Troy Neff: I love music, I would say that is my number one hobby right now and although I’ve just recently committed myself to it and have a ton of work to do, it is something I want to do for the entirety of my life. I also love playing games, but balance that with going outside, exercising and staying healthy.

DAMAN: What do you think would you be doing right now if, back in early 2020, you hadn’t gone into modeling?
Troy Neff: I would still be in school at UCSB like I am right now and not too much would be different, but I for sure wouldn’t be able to travel like I get to with modeling.

Shirt by Sandro; T-shirt by 3.1 Phillip Lim

DAMAN: If somebody came up to you and asked you for advice about becoming a model, what’s the first thing that would you tell them?
Troy Neff: Maybe try and contact agencies as much as you can until you find someone that sees what you see in yourself. Also just understanding your body, what your best angles are, and being very comfortable in front of a camera is all important.

DAMAN: All in all, though, is it fun being a model?
Troy Neff: It is. I love getting to travel because of it. Fashion is also one of my biggest inspirations and I am grateful my job is surrounded by the newest clothing.

Outfit by Paul Smith

DAMAN: What is it that motivates you to get up and your best each and every day?
Troy Neff: I think art in general is my biggest passion and it truly motivates me to do great and get up each day. I want to create something that lives beyond me and impacts other people’s lives in a positive way. So, figuring out how to do that through any medium is what keeps me going and pushing forward. I just want to help.


Outfit by Hugo by Hugo Boss
Top by Kenzo; pants by Hugo by Hugo Boss