Jennifer Tuffen (also known as @izkiz on Instagram) has a love of travel that runs deep. Raised on exciting family holidays and riveting tales of her grandfather’s travels, Tuffen has become a world traveler and top travel photographer on Instagram. Her photos are bright, idyllic, and capture the beauty of some of the world’s most remarkable locations.
We spoke with Jennifer Tuffen about her journey to becoming a top travel influencer, how she distinguishes herself from the thousands of other travel influencers, and what’s next for her career. Learn about the woman behind the stunning travel photography of @izkiz in our exclusive interview below.
When and how did you develop an interest in travel and photography?
My interest in photography started about 6 years ago when I bought my first iPhone 3GS. I went on holiday and was snapping photos left, right, and center with my phone. When I got back, I didnʼt know what to do with them all. I downloaded Instagram and became hooked pretty much straight away. Thatʼs when I really started taking an interest in photography.
Travel is something Iʼve always loved. We used to travel a lot for family holidays when I was younger. I also attended international schools my whole life, so Iʼve always been very influenced by other cultures and languages around me. Being in a class with students from all over the world has that effect on you.
Another big influence for me growing up was my amazing grandfather, who traveled around the world. From Antarctica to Australia, he was always off on an adventure or sailing his boat to far away lands. I used to sit on his knee and listen to his travel stories with my mouth open in amazement. I still have a big box full of postcards and random souvenirs he sent me, like a piece of lava and an ocarina!
When did you realize that publishing your photos on Instagram could become a career?
When I first joined Instagram, I really started to get into editing and Photoshop. I used to spend hours on there tweaking my photos and creating filters. Iʼd get so many people a day asking me how I edited my photo that after awhile we realized we could turn this into something.
We decided to create a photo editing app and incorporate our filters into it, which enabled others to edit their photos the same way we did. Thatʼs when the DeluxeFX photo editing app was born.
My partner became an app developer and we marketed the app on Instagram. Now that the app boom has died down, our focus has definitely turned to content creation, which Iʼm enjoying so much.
How do you distinguish yourself and your photos from the myriads of travel influencers on Instagram?
I think itʼs much harder to distinguish yourself these days as thereʼs so much competition. It wasnʼt like that in the beginning. It was a small community. Everyone knew each other and had their own style.
I built a really nice community back then that is still around to this day. I often get messages from people saying that they have followed me since I had 5,000 followers, which is so nice. I just try to keep my Instagram filled with colorful, summery photos, which has always been my recognizable style.
Can you tell us about your photographic style? How has it changed or evolved over time?
I look back at my old photos and wonder what I was thinking. I like to think my photographic style and editing has evolved over the last 6 years and that it’s still evolving every day. I still like my photos to be bright and colorful but I try to go easy on the saturation button, unlike in the past where I was very heavy-handed with the vibrancy.
It has definitely been a process and you also have to move with the times. The things I uploaded to Instagram 5 years ago wouldnʼt cut it now. I will probably look back in another 6 years and wonder what I was thinking now!
What have been the major challenges for you in your line of work?
Nothing too major, to be honest. I think one of the small (but good) challenges is the work that goes into taking some of the photos. Looking at them, you wouldnʼt realize how much effort some of them take, how long you have to wait to get that perfect shot.
How do you choose which brands to collaborate with and what is the creative process for those campaigns like? Do you have a particularly memorable campaign?
I only work with brands if they fit my style and blend into my feed so itʼs natural. One of my favorite campaigns was with Dubai Tourism.
They flew us business class to Dubai and had us explore and eat our way around the city. It was just amazing. Helicopter rides over the Burj Al Arab, sunset dune bashing in the desert. I love any campaigns and collaborations that are travel related.
What is Izkiz Cam? Which filter do you like using most?
Izkiz Cam is our second photo editing app. I donʼt edit with that at the moment because the app is undergoing a major revamp with new filters that Iʼve created, but Iʼm super excited to start using it again once itʼs been updated!
Quick-fire round: Pool or beach?
Favorite places youʼve visited?
Cappadocia, Lapland, and Dubai.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers and social media influencers?
Do what you love and be active. Donʼt try to do what others are doing just to be popular. If you build a solid community and discover your own style that isnʼt the same as everyone else’s, that will come later.
Use relevant hashtags, comment and like people that post similar content, but more than anything, just enjoy what you do and enjoy creating the content you create.
What are you looking forward to in your career? Is there any news your followers can get excited about?
Iʼm just looking forward to traveling more and creating more content to share with my followers!