Google Makes Business Photos Self-Service

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.

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Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

21 Reactions
  1. The reason for using a Google Trusted Photographer, is they are the only ones allowed to put the virtual interactive walk-thru on Google place pages. Hire outside the program and you can only get the still photos.

  2. Or instead of trying to scam your photos for free you could actually pay a professional to take them.. professionals need to get paid too.. They have bills like everyone else.

    • Paul’s right — if you want professional photography, you should be prepared to pay for it. Professional photographers are essentially running their own small business. If you expect people to pay for the goods and services your business offers, why would you not expect to pay another business for their services?

    • Thank you, Paul! I am a professional photographer who owns my own business and I’ve been looking into what the Google Business photographers get paid. From a small amount of research, it looks like the pay is very little. For the author of this to encourage people to hold out for “free” photos, even if it is a barter, is a true slap in the face.

  3. Sounds like a great deal for all the trusted photographers that Google lined up. Wonder what they had to do.

  4. Yeah great idea. I’ll not be holding my breath for the availability here in Ireland though ha! It’s amazing when you think the amount of work must go into their photography section alone, amalgamating all that street view imagery, google earth images, picasa, etc. etc. etc. etc. I wouldn’t begrudge them delegating some responsibilities to a few (lucky) local photographers!

  5. Related info : How to embed Google Business Photos into a Facebook Page

  6. Hi Lisa
    How can you write an article about something that you really don’t understand.
    have a look at Dean ,Paul and TR reply above. You Lisa do not understand the way it works [edited by Editor]
    Firstly any good Photograher won’t work for free!!
    [edited by Editor]
    The photographer has to be listed with google, or it’s not going to work.
    “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.”

  7. As a Google Trusted Photographer for the Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona areas, it seems that the comments seem to be a bit fragmented with partial truths. I hope I can help clear this up a bit.

    It is in fact true that ONLY a Google Trusted Photographer can do the 360 degree virtual photos for business (think Street View inside your business), as they have been certified by Google to meet their stringent guidelines in order to insure they deliver the highest quality tours available for each businesses. I applaud them for this. Not only are the tours done with HDR techniques (high dynamic range), but they are consistent world-wide this way, which is important. Now, if a business owner wants to hire their own professional photographer for the still images, they can certainly do that but an owner can only upload 10 total still images, whereas a Google Trusted Photographer can upload 15!

    The process is dead easy, if a business already has a Google Places page, then they can contact a Trusted Photographer and they will come out to shoot their panorama tour images as well as up to 15 featured images, for a pre-determined fee… and this is only a ONE-TIME fee, no ongoing fees.

    One of the best parts is that after the tour is made available on Google (it shows on Searches, Maps and Places), the business owner can embed their tour on their own websites as well!

    Any business from a retail store to restaurant, auto dealership to bar, or even toy stores can do it. In fact, I’m the first one to do virtual tours of a chain of tunnel express car washes in the world for Google), so you can see, this can help almost any kind of business. We all know that almost everyone starts with a search on Google, so why wouldn’t you want them to see your tour right away and draw customers into your business?

    I hope this helps everyone understand a bit better how the program works.

  8. My understanding is that the business owner who pays the Google Tursted Indepednat Photographer has full rights to the photographs. They can even use them on their personal website, including the virtual image.
    Essentially, Google is not really involved other than setting up some ground rules and assisting photographers with a little bit of marketing, listing them on the Googel Business site.

  9. Mark, your comment “It is in fact true that ONLY a Google Trusted Photographer can do the 360 degree virtual photos for business” is definitely false. Those of us at Terrain360 dot com have been providing this service for businesses, counties and events throughout Virginia for some time now. Terrain360 provides high resolution panoramic tours of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, water features as well as tourism attractions, events and hospitality partners. We are more than happy to offer competitive pricing and the best technology for our region to be your property and available on your own websites as well as your own custom profile page on the Terrain360 site. I do think this technology is an incredibly innovative marketing tool for small businesses.

  10. Diana:

    My comment is correct and was in reference to what is displayed on Google, and it is indeed a fact that ONLY a Google Trusted & Certified Photographer can do a virtual tour that displays on Google, and when it does, it shows up on the clients Google+, Maps & Searches pages. This is a HUGE benefit to the client as it will be seen when people are searching for a local business, which they typically search for… on Google.

  11. Diana: to clarify, only a Google Trusted Photographer (one that’s gone through all of the training, purchased the required gear on the pre-approved list, etc.) can create and post a business’ virtual tour that will literally be on Google Maps Street View. Do this: search Google Maps for Toy Joy in Austin Texas, view with Street View, and you can literally walk inside the business from the street. Yes, lots of photographers do 360 panos for websites. But they’re not on Google Maps, Google+ Places business listings, etc. This entire point is what Lisa Barone completely missed in writing this article, and really what discredits her to being any sort of authority to even make an intelligent comment on the subject.

  12. Question for Lisa: If a company uses its own photographer, how does it upload the panoramic images to Google? I can’t find any portal which Google provides to do this.

    • Hi Jonny
      The photographer has to be one of Google’s certified photographers. What you are looking for does not exist. The Photographer must be certified, as there is certain criteria that must be followed.
      Regards Terry

  13. Google business photos have recently entered into my country and more than excited about this. I think it gives agencies and SMbs an opportunity to make the interaction with customers more interesting!

  14. Can a business ask a tour to be removed for a certain amout of time and then re-publish it at a later stage?