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You can add a photo to a custom map with My Maps. To get the photo URL, right-click and copy URL.
Here’s the video:
Does that help?
I just tried it from Google Photos to My Maps and it worked fine.
Are you sure you had the full photo open? Not the album or other collection, but a fullscreen photo. Then right-click and “Copy Image URL” (using Chrome) and paste that into the right field. It’s easy to click the little camera, then forget to click on the second choice for URL.
Let me know.