We've heard stories for a while now about businesses being asked by Google reps if they could come in and take pictures of the inside of some bars, salons, etc. And now we know why.
Yesterday Google announced (in limited areas) the availability of a new service called "Business Photos". Besides the outside of your building, a few product pictures and maybe one of the staff, businesses have been very limited in the amount of pictures they could upload to their Google Places listing.
With the new Business Photos option, Google will actually send a professional photographer to your business, take pictures, and make those pictures available as part of your Places page.
For now, this is only available in limited areas, and St. Louis is not among them. Currently, Phoenix AZ, Orange County CA, Bay Area CA, San Antonio TX and St. Petersburg FL are the testing grounds. If you are in one of those areas, go ahead and apply for the business photos service. For the rest of you, keep an eye on this blog for updates.