Jürgen Bruckner photographed many castles, palaces and monuments, but his most famous photo is one of Hohenwerfen Castle in Salzburg Land: 1.3 million people have already viewed this photo. where? Not in a museum, a photo gallery, or a tourist brochure. No, Bruckner posts his photos on Google Maps.
Steinfelder is one of millions of “Local Guides” around the world who add photos, places and reviews to the Google Maps map service, answer other users’ questions and add websites or phone numbers to the Maps site. Google has set it up as a kind of game: for every addition to the maps, guides get points and can thus access different levels. There are ten points for a review, five for a photo, and 15 for a new website. You get to the second, third, fourth level quickly – Bruckner was fascinated when he saw his pictures being displayed. He has now collected 45,000 points and is now at level eight out of ten.
3.3 million views per month
The pensioner loves to take photos, goes on motorcycle tours, travels a lot, and is interested in castles and palaces. It combines these four hobbies with Google Maps. He plans his vacation meticulously so that he can see as many castles as possible in a few days. When he returns home, he then edits the photos and, for example, cuts out license plates. “Sometimes I sit there until late at night,” he says. He taught himself how to take pictures.
It was important to him that his photos not rot on his hard drive without anyone seeing them. His posts get about 100,000 views a day. In total, his photos are viewed 3.3 million times per month. On Instagram, there is a demand for other forms and styles of photography, and at photo agencies, other people are making money from his photos, which stinks. This is how he got onto Google Maps: here his images are freely accessible, frequently viewed, and everyone can enjoy them.
More than 300,000 people have already viewed his photo of CarlsbergIt is the first image that appears when you click on the monuments on the maps. A photo of the Shanghai skyline, taken by Bruckner during one of his long journeys, has received more than a million views. His heart lies in India, but he has also traveled to China, Taiwan, Ethiopia and Peru. For him, Google Maps works like a travel diary.
Duttenbrunn can only be found on Google Maps because of this
But his photos from the area tend to get many views. “In Pisa, everyone takes a picture of the Leaning Tower and holds it up. But my picture gets lost in the crowd.” That’s why he prefers to take pictures of lesser-known places: on a trip to Tuscany, he added a photo of a historic city tower he didn’t know – 300,000 views.
A place that can only be found on a map thanks to Jürgen Bruckner, for example, is the excavation field of the Carolingian settlement near Dotenbrunn. At first he hesitated: “I didn’t want to be responsible if grave robbers came and broke something.” That’s why he wrote in his review that it is an important archaeological place and that visitors should not break anything. When new entries are made, Google “checks” whether the place already exists. Therefore Bruckner always has to provide a website as evidence – in this case the site of the Spessart Archaeological Project. It took two weeks for “Seehausen” to take effect.
“On Google Maps, the photos might still be there after me.”
Jürgen Bruckner, hobby reviewer
Brückner only reviews places and attractions, not hotels or restaurants, as many other local guides do. “Why should I rate pickled meat or meatloaf? Everyone has different tastes,” he says. He also didn’t want everyone to be able to understand his exact whereabouts.
The photos should outlast the photographer
Why does he do all this? There is no money for people who improve Google Maps with their add-ons. Instead, Google tempts people with the prospect of rewards without providing any details. But Bruckner does not care about them. “I once received a discount coupon for the Google App Store,” he says with a laugh. Didn’t use it. He’s talking about something different.
Every Saturday he sits down and evaluates his Google stats. He wants to reach the ninth point, because he is ambitious. And it’s still 5,000 points short – that’s 1,000 photos or 500 reviews. To reach the highest level, he had to collect twice as many points.
He used to make hundreds of prints of his photographs in India and show the albums to friends and families, but not everyone wanted to see them. “If I don’t put the pictures on the Internet, one day I will die and no one will look at the pictures,” he says. When 800 people a day click on his photo of Carlsborg on Maps, it represents a feeling of accomplishment for him. “On Google Maps, the photos might still be there after me.”