I just got an idea to make photons a little more useful. No, it's not a ship. No, it's also not a card. It's a rule change.
Instead of being required to target lock every time you fire them, instead you could fire them without a target lock but suffer a penalty, like roll for self damage or aux power tokens.
It would need tweaking, but I can see this potentially working. Photons would have some actual use instead of just kinda being there.
People have suggested no end of changes to photons because they're so badly designed as to be nearly useless. Their only utility in the modern game is as a rear arc weapon or as an add to a very low attack die ship (and if you're doing that you probably should use another ship). And even then there are better emergency rear arc weapons (rear phase cannon).
The problem with your idea is that they're already not too high in the number of dice (5'ish is not great in STAW) and once you add a penalty to the already great list of penalties (action to target lock, the target lock doesn't allow reroll, reenable them afterward, etc.) it's just even more useless.
Further if you're thinking of it as an anti-Klingon/Romulan tactic, it's also no good because you need a certain number of attack dice/quality to burn through the cloak.
I think you have the right idea but I just don't think it's enough. If you don't mind variants try my photons in Variants. Or if you want a single rule change, let the target lock allow you to reroll. If you also make the photons have a cooldown mechanic instead of a re-enable, then you basically have my torpedoes.