Google Business Photos is supposedly a means of getting photographers and businesses together. A business site reviewing the recent offering from Google says right up front “If you want full rights to your pictures, you may want to hire your own photographer and not go through Google.” And, that is their warning to the people buying the photography, not the ones creating it.
More to the point for photographers is that if you want to retain ownership of your copyright or negotiate your own terms for usage and ownership, Google is not where you want to be. The “Work for Hire” concept of photography has been debated for decades, but it essentially means giving up rights, and income, and often working for lower than reasonable rates at the same time.
ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) is an organization that monitors and protects primarily the music industry to see that their members receive royalties or other compensation when their work is used to benefit someone else. The use of music is not free, and neither is the use of photography. But, photographers do not have an organization with the power and clout that ASCAP has, and as a result there are always people in the business community who do not understand and respect the value of the photograph created for them. That leaves it to the individual photographer to negotiate the price for the photography, and in many cases, additional compensation for additional usage of the images, especially for high volume advertising.
Unfortunately, some beginning photographers fall for the scam, giving away their work for the promise of future work, a credit line on the published photo (try buying a cup of coffee by showing them your credit line), or other seriously undervalued compensation for their work. Photographers are like any other business, they need income to survive, and keeping the doors of a business open can be a very costly issue. If you are an amateur and you sell a picture for $25, stop to think how many you would have to sell every week to make up your salary. How many would you have to sell in a year to pay yourself a salary, buy your equipment, and pay your bills.
Don’t undervalue photography, even if you are not a working professional, and if you want to be a professional, understand and avoid schemes like Google Business Photos. Google will essentially steal your rights and the images will become part of their database. You can bet they will make money on the images, not all of them, but some of them, and you can bet that getting your share of the fortune will not be forthcoming. Unfortunately, most of the stock photo businesses are equally guilty. They play on your ego, and keep the profits for themselves.