Back in May we told you about Google Business Photos, an effort by Google to pair small business owners up with professional photographers to take high-quality images of their business for their Google Places profile. At the time the program was only available in select cities so we encouraged SMBs not to wait for Google  and to take their own photos. Today we tell you that if you didn’t listen to us, you’re in luck because Google just made the whole program self-service . So if you do want a professional photographer to come take photos of your business, here’s your chance.
Because of the success of the original pilot, Google has created a new Business Photos  Web site so that small business owners can find a “trust photographer” in their area. SMBs can get started  by finding a photographer from Google’s list and then both parties work out a time and price on their own. Within days your photos will then be available on Google’s properties. Google has essentially taken itself out of the equation and is now playing match-matcher between SMBs and photographers.
A few things worth noting about the program:
In its FAQ, Google does disclose that these photos may be used outside of just your Google Places profile, including possible Google Maps integration. By allowing a Google “trusted photographer” to take your business photos, you license the photos to Google to use. This probably isn’t an issue for most SMBs who want their photos out there, but something to keep in mind for certain businesses. If you want full rights to your pictures, you may want to hire your own photographer and not go through Google.
Something else to keep in mind is you won’t have the ability to review the photos before they go live on your Google Place page. Again, from the Google FAQ:
Because of the technology takes individual unstitched and unreviewed images that need considerable processing after they are uploaded by the photographer, to produce the attractive ‘walk- through’ experience, you will not be able to review the images before they are uploaded to Google.
However, if you find a major issue, you can ask Google to blur some areas of the panoramic images. You can also ask to have all panoramas removed, but they’re unable to take down individual ones, which may be a bummer.
Months after our original post, I still think small business owners are better off finding their own photographer rather than looping Google into the process. By doing your own legwork you can potentially find a photographer you can barter services with (allowing you to get the photos for free) and you get full control over how many photos are taken, which are used, and how they’re used. Maybe I’m just paranoid but I don’t see the value of bringing Google into the equation.
However, if you’re interested, Trusted Photographers is currently available in 14 US cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco/Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, DC.), as well as in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and France.
Happy photo taking.