The A-Z of stock photo websites
Stock photo sites are almost always behind any great designer. Good stock photos can do great things for a project, just as bad stock photography can ruin it. Picking the right pics has a lot to do with picking the right site for your stock needs.
There are tons of sites that offer stock photography for free and for paid subscriptions. Today, we’re going to show you many of the sites that matter and why you may you may be interested in them. There are a lot, so let’s hop right in.
Premium stock sites
What a great way to start this round up off — Thinkstock is a conglomerate sort of site. Purchasing credits or a subscription to this particular one gets you access to three of the more popular stock sites online. They have Image Packs that start at $49 for 5 pictures and subscriptions that start at $139 per month. This is a great choice for those that will need stock pictures often.
Shutterstock boasts that they have over 25 million stock photos, illustrations, vectors and videos available by paid subscriptions. Of note, they have much more than just your typical stock photography. This is a great choice for anyone who not only designs, but dabbles in other areas as well. They have image packs starting at $29 for 2 pictures and subscriptions at $199 a month.
Getty Images is a leader not just in stock photography, but in photos used for news and editorial pieces as well. They are the reason we see many of these images on different news outlets all over the world. A subscription with Getty is a great idea if you are someone who needs photos of world leaders, countries, and more all the time. Their pricing tends to be dependent on how you want to use the photo.
This stock site has tons of great photography. The difference here, is how they create their subscription and payment plans. The idea behind 123RF is to be as affordable as possible. They do this by offering a basic subscription that allows you to download 5 photos a day — this plan starts at 30 days (600 images) at $89. They also have a premium plan for 26 images a day as well as a pay as you go plan.
Corbis features images exclusive to them that are taken by some of the leading photographers of our time. They also have editorial pieces as well as creative pieces that aren’t your typical bland piece of stock photography. They have different types of subscriptions plans that you must contact for pricing.
iStockPhoto is a very familiar name in the stock photography world. They’ve been around for more than 10 years and continue to provide lots of stock solutions, including video and audio. And in the future, iStockPhoto even wants to offer logos. So, now may be the time for you to become well acquainted with of the better known stock sites. iStockPhoto sells photos by credits which are as low as $1.33 a credit, or they have subscriptions that start at $995 for 35 pictures a day for 30 days.
Here, we have another pretty standard stock photography site that’s great to get images for whatever you need. Dreamstime enjoys priding themselves on being affordable by offering credits to download pictures as well as subscriptions. Credit packages start as low as $14.99 for 11 credits, while subscription plans are as low as $215 for 750 images in one month.
A lot of these sites, above and below, are really clunky to use and rather cluttered. Obviously, these sites have millions of images to offer and there are tons of ways to categorize them. BigStock claims they are the stock site that makes this process simple and affordable. Their plans start at $69 for 1 month and $35 for 10 credits.
Unlike most sites that give you images, Veer aims straight for the designer’s heart by offering images and fonts. They also tend to have a lot more creative photos, rather than the bland, white background pictures you might find on other sites. They have credit packs that start at $18.48 for 12 credits and a 30 day, 20 image a day plan for $229. You can also buy everything a la cart, with images starting at $2 and fonts starting at $9.
I like Stocksy, because much like Veer, they aim straight for the heart of the designer by offering extremely creative and unique photographs. It’s an extremely clean and easy to navigate design that’s reminiscent more of a portfolio and less of a stock site. This is a wonderful site for those of us looking for meaningful images on a budget.
While many of these sites will boast and brag about having a collection of images in the double digit millions, Jupiter Images has a lot less. However, it’s still a fairly well known name and a subsidiary of Getty Images, so we have to assume the photography (and pricing) is high quality.
Can Stock Photo
This is one of your more standard and affordable stock photography sites. They have many of your typical photographs, with a few amazing things here and there. Can Stock Photo also offers video footage. With them, you’re able to download instantly (a la carte), starting at $2.50 for images and $10 for video. They also have a very affordable 1-week subscription package for $39 that allows you to download 10 images per day.
Deposit is another one of the pretty standard stock photography sites where you can find some really great things here and there. They are absolutely one of the cheapest at $69 for a 1 month, 5 image per day subscription and pay-as-you-go credits at $50 for 50 credits.
With over 35 million photographs and footage, this is quite possibly the largest collection of stock online. Alamy is big on creative photography — if you browse a bit, you’ll see some things that should probably be in an art exhibit rather than a stock site. Alamy is also big in philanthropy, so if you want your subscription payments to go to a good cause, this may be your best bet.
Stockfresh doesn’t seem to be all that popular, but they claim to have been involved with some other stock sites to boost their reputation. They also seem like a pretty standard stock site with some really great photos here and there. They have credits starting at $1.00 per credit and subscription plans for 1 month, 5 downloads a day for $99.
National Geographic Creative
Everyone loves and talks about the photos taken by the National Geographic all the time. Now, you can have access to those pictures and videos, and they also sell talent, much like an agency. Obviously, you’ll have to contact them for pricing and quotes as this isn’t your standard stock site, but a great resource for larger companies nonetheless.
Fotolia offers over 20 million stock resources in images, video and vector. They have a program for logos as well, where you can submit a brief and get a logo created for, at least, $195. They’re a bit more expensive than some places, with credits starting at $1.40 per credit, but they do seem to have some rather creative and interesting photos.
Here, they’re competing with other stock sites primarily based on price and features. It’s the first thing you see and almost the only thing they tell you about. PhotoXpress has subscription plans that start at $9.99 a month for 5 images a month. However, your images can roll-over if you don’t use them all and you can use those same credits for vectors. Not a bad deal if you only use stock photography once in a blue moon.
Crestock is your pretty standard stock site, however they have a section dedicated to celebrity pictures. Most of them seem to be on the red carpet, but it could be very useful for one who needs that kind of thing but finds a Getty Images subscription too expensive. They have credits starting at $1 a piece and a 20 image a day, one month plan starting at $199.
What I like about this site is they give you an option of how many photos you want access to in your subscription. You can get access to 1 million of the photos for one year for $429, which is one of the cheaper annual plans I’ve seen. Or you can access to the entire stock library of 2.4 million plus for $1188 a year.
If I had to judge a book by it’s cover, I’d probably tell you not to waste your time with this site. However, when you peruse the images, they have some fair pictures if you get past all the fluff. Frankly, I think one can find a higher quality experience for the amount of the subscriptions and the credits, which vary depending on the sizes of the images.
Here’s another stock site that’s really nothing to write home about. However, they have a really advanced search system for their images, for those of us who like to get extremely specific. Subscriptions at Cutcaster start at $16.99 for 12 credits.
Mostphotos is focused half on selling stock photos and half on getting photographers to join them to sell their photos. It’s actually a very nice site with some good stocks and some fair prices. Their images start at a whopping $5 a pop with a monthly subscription of 10 images a month for $39.
Pixmac seems to be a fast growing stock site, as it was created in 2008 and now has over 14 million pictures. They’re your pretty typical stock site with credit packages starting at $29.95 for 30 credits and subscriptions starting at $99.95 for 30 days. They also have a section of 64,000 free images.
Free Stock Sites
Stock Free Images
I don’t want to call it a scam, but it’s a very persuasive promotional tool. Dreamstime has put this site together to offer you 3 free downloads and then coerce you into getting a paid subscription. If you’re okay with this, I’d tell you to make good on your 3 free downloads then ditch them.
This is a surprisingly wonderful site with free stock photos. Some of them aren’t shot with the best lens or edited perfectly, but there are some gems. There aren’t a whole lot of options, but if you can make your idea work with what they have, Stockvault is a wonderful choice if you’re on a budget or just don’t want to buy stock photos.
ESP is a site where you can search the databases of every free stock site and some communities. Honestly, you’re better off just using the sites individually, as EveryStockPhoto seems to sometimes show old photos or photos you have to pay for in their results.
I’m sure someone can find a use for most of these photos. These are definitely the cheesier photos, but again, if you are in desperate need and have a $0 budget, this is probably the site for you. Honestly, there are better free alternatives.
This is my all time personal favorite. It’s probably not better than any other free stock site, it’s just a preference, especially as the search and site isn’t as cluttered as the rest. There seems to be lots of old pictures and photos people just didn’t sit around to edit. If you feel like digging and doing a lot of work, this is easily one of the best out there.
I’ve recently started using this site and it’s easily a favorite for free photographs. The pictures aren’t the best — they’re more like throwaway photos people decided to share, but you can find many usable pictures here.
Again, if I had to judge a book by its cover, I’d tell you to run far, far away. However, this site is great for photos of well-known places. Most aren’t big enough to print large things, however, it’s a decent site to get a different perspective on some nice landmarks.
FreeFoto.com claims to have over 130,000 images available for free download. The one stipulation is that you must link back and give credit. Much like the rest of the free sites, this seems like a trash bin for some photos as well as some really old photographs, but I’m sure you can find a gem here and there.
Free Range Stock
In order to start downloading from Free Range Stock, you’ll have to register to download. You can check some pictures before you download them. And while none of them real probably blow you away, there are some really higher quality photos in their collection.
If you can get past their busy interface, you can find some decent stock photos. Beware, this site is half free half pay — you can get the smaller sized photos for free and the larger sized ones for around $2. Either way, it’s really not a bad deal if you can find something useful.
there are not a ton of photos on this site. They’re pretty good, though, seeming to be from amateur photographers who just wanted to share. Not a bad site for someone looking to get a realistic view on scenery and such.
Most of the images on Free Images are great for desktops and large website displays. There’s nothing really over 1600 pixels. The photography is fair, as with most free sites, these look like amateur photos.
Here, you’re able to download free pictures thanks to the Creative Commons license. The only thing you have to do is link back to FreePhotoBank.
Imagebase has some really nice photographs all from the same photographer. He’s not asking for anything in return. At all. Just some general rules about he’d prefer the images to be used that you’d probably want to look at before you download them.
The Wikimedia Commons is a repository for all the media that’s used in the various Wikimedia Projects. Because of this, all these photographs have a creative commons license and are public domain. You don’t need to be a part of a project to be able to use them, just browse around and download what you like.
Photodune is a marketplace for photographers to sell their images. They submit them to the powers that be, and once approved, they’ll get a price tag and it will be available for purchase. It’s a different set up mainly because you’re purchasing everything a la carte, with pictures starting at $1 for small, web resolutions.
We all know Flickr is a site that’s to be used to share our photos. You can’t really go there and download pictures and use them as you please. However, some people use a creative commons license on their photos and others just ask that you let them know you’re using the picture. You’ll have to do a bit of searching (you may be able to find a group that focuses on such pics), but this is a great site to find some really good creative pictures.
Much like Flickr, different artists come together to share their work. Unlike Flickr, however, there’s more than just photography. And while Deviantart has a section for photography and stock photography, it’s much easier to find amateurs on Deviantart.
Based on your needs, you can find a stock site and plan that’s good for you. Personally, I like to use the free stock sites and take my own pictures when I need them. I rarely need to download stocks often, but when I do, I do a lot of a la carte purchasing. The idea is to think about what works for you, your projects and your budget. Good luck choosing!
Which of these sites do you rely on? Have we missed an invaluable resource? Let us know in the comments.