Die Geschichte von VIEWFINDR. Wie ein junger Fotograf mit einer Wetterapp für Landschaftsfotografie die Fotografie revolutionierte.
At first it may sound obvious: Landscape photographers need a weather forecast, because the light in nature and the effect of a landscape are determined by the weather. But how did a young photographer, a meteorologist and a developer come together to develop the first and only weather app for landscape photography over several years?
Since his childhood, VIEWFINDR founder Bastian Werner has been interested in aviation. He trained as a glider pilot. A good glider pilot is not the one who can control the aircraft significantly more precisely than all other pilots. Rather, it is the absolute understanding of the weather that helps glider pilots to set distance records, or to fly 23,200m high in the Andes. This is twice as high as a commercial aircraft, and without jet engines.
During his comprehensive meteorological training to become a glider pilot, Bastian Werner realised that the weather fascinated him much more than the technical equipment of aviation. He began to document the various weather phenomena outside the cockpit with his camera and to develop an ever deeper understanding of their processes.
He developed a particular fondness for thunderstorms and severe weather. The enormous forces that the atmosphere unleashes in a storm have always given people goose bumps, but in Bastian Werner they trigger a great fascination. He began actively tracking storm fronts as a storm chaser, first in Germany, then in Europe and finally in the famous Tornado Alley in the USA.
Clouds and weather have a special beauty. Fog, burning red clouds or icy winter landscapes. Growing up in Central Europe meant being able to observe a great many weather phenomena. The simple documentation of weather phenomena quickly gave way to the urge to photograph them as aesthetically as possible. The aesthetics of the landscapes in which the weather occurs are the gateway to people’s fascination, because beauty fascinates.
It was in 2013 that Bastian Werner first made contact with other landscape photographers. Joint photo tours were planned, because among friends a foggy sunrise is twice as beautiful. At that moment, Bastian realised what an enormous advantage his approach to weather photography brought to the planning. While the other landscape photographers plagued themselves with conventional weather apps and often missed wonderful weather moments in the landscape due to inaccurate or wrong forecasts, he was able to reliably predict all weather phenomena important for landscape photography thanks to his meteorological training and experience as a weather photographer.
So why not make this knowledge accessible to other landscape photographers? The idea of a weather app for landscape photography was born. But for a high school graduate, the idea of a weather app is in the unattainable distance. In 2014, Bastian asked a photographer friend who had just published her first book on landscape photography to contact Rheinwerk Verlag. Why a weather app for landscape photography? A book is a nice way to share knowledge and experience with the world. The responsible people at Rheinwerk Verlag unanimously decided to publish the book “Photographing with Wind and Weather”.
To date, 20,000 copies of the book have been sold in 2 editions, making it one of the most successful books for nature photography published by Rheinwerk Verlag. This enabled Bastian Werner to start working as a professional landscape photographer. This was followed by appearances and seminars at all the major German-speaking photo fairs, countless workshops and photo trips with participants. Bastian Werner wrote three more books, published comprehensive video courses for the meteorological education of photographers and weather enthusiasts, flew to the volcano and into the hurricane. Finally, he had the reputation and the money to implement his idea of the weather app for landscape photography to make the knowledge of weather photography even more easily and understandably accessible.
Disillusionment quickly followed. After Bastian had visited several developer companies for Android and iOS apps to find out about possible costs, he had to realise that his savings would not even begin to cover such a project. The rejection of a well-known German meteorologist also made him downgrade the project of a weather app for landscape photography back to an idea.
It was 2018 when chance wanted good. Bastian received an order for 2 copies of his weather calendar from the company Meteo Solutions in Darmstadt, his home. So there was a person there who appreciated his weather photography so much that this person would like to have his weather photography calendar on the wall in his meteorological software solutions company. “Wonderful!” thought Bastian, “this is an opportunity.” He made an appointment with the managing director and co-founder of VIEWFINDR: Jürgen Lang.
The reference of the book “Photographing with Wind and Weather” and 20,000 copies sold convinced enough of the market potential of the weather app for landscape photography that Jürgen agreed to allocate free capacities of his company Meteo Solutions to developing the weather algorithms for landscape photographers. A website was to be created on which landscape photographers could view a weather forecast developed especially for them.
Two years passed and by the end of 2020, the weather parameters were largely finished, the website was functional in its basic features, when Bastian discovered a new app for landscape photographers by chance. Secretly, Stefan Engel had developed an app that helps landscape photographers plan and organise various conditions at the photo spot. For Bastian and Jürgen it was clear at that moment: this is competition, or the missing piece that would create the weather app for landscape photography. Bastian approached Stefan and asked him if he would be interested in finding symbioses in a joint meeting.
The meeting was a complete success. The three founders of VIEWFINDR quickly recognised the synergies. Jürgen Lang, with his company Meteo Solutions, has the know-how to develop and process weather data of all kinds. Stefan Engel had the ability to develop great applications and Bastian Werner knew the landscape photography market and had the vision of the finished product.
The weather app for landscape photography was born. When a project is simple, it is good. The entire VIEWFINDR app was created with a maximum of 1h online meeting per week, because each of the founders knew exactly what needed to be done to realise the project. Today, the first weather app for landscape photography enjoys a steadily increasing number of new users and the three founders are eager to make more and more geodata accessible to landscape photographers.