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Stock photo services provide images for use in editorial (news), website, commercial, entertainment, and artistic projects to illustrate and visualize various concepts and ideas. Such images enhance storytelling value by instantly communicating what the piece is about.
Stock photos can be purchased individually or in "packs" or groups, either with a monthly or yearly subscription or as a one-time, on demand arrangement. Generally, the longer your subscription term and the more images you purchase, the lower the cost per image.
Wednesday, January 20th
Shutterstock is a well-liked stock image platform in the industry. They include in their catalog millions of photos, vectors, illustrations, editorial images, videos, and music. The image quality is also excellent. Shutterstock earns our highest rating for a balance of quality, powerful features, flexible pricing, and affordability at various levels of usage.
Getty Images is the Cadillac of stock image sites. That reputation comes at a higher cost per image, but for better quality than you are likely to ever find on other image sites. If you're in the market for that, and can pay for top-shelf photography, Getty is the site to use.
If Getty Images is the Cadillac of stock photos, iStock (owned by Getty) is the Volvo - a high-quality, yet lower cost alternative. We recommend iStock if you want to find a lot of really beautiful and unique photography at prices that won't break your budget.
Deposit Photos has stock photography, editorial images, illustrations, templates, videos, and vector graphics for every topic imaginable. They have a simple pricing plan with flexible options depending on subscription renewal period and license type. The Crello tool plus the large library of images earns Deposit Photos a good rating.
Dreamstime makes available over 146 million stock photos and has 32 million users. It's a very well-established stock photography website with a variety of images and image types, even including audio files. It's a good deal price-wise and also with respect to quality.
Megapixl has "tens of millions" of images in its collections. It's also owned by Dreamstime, another stock photo company in our review. There are a lot of beautiful photographs and other image types on this website that will enliven your projects. It hasn't been available for as long as other sites and the images, while nice, are not as great as with other services.
BigStock provides a 7-day free trial to explore their images and videos collection. However, the selection of assets is limited to just those two types of media. Use it if you need it, but know that there are better options available if you need a robust library of stock photos and other media types.
The spare and outdated-looking interface of Crestock, not to mention it being blocked as potentially unsafe on our network firewall, gave us pause when deciding whether to recommend it. The images on Crestock are cheap both in quality and cost. We recommend skipping this and using another service.
Some stock photo sites contain higher quality images than others - depending on the photographers' skill, experience, reputation, and the ways they choose subjects, compose and light their photos. So, it's important to consider this when the price on one site seems very high compared to others.
Image types are typically photos but also include anything of visual value. That covers video, vector art, illustrations, editorial photos for news stories, and formatted templates for social media, blogs, marketing materials, and ads.
Photo resolutions are measured in pixels (dots) and range from low pixel density (a horizontal resolution of around 400 pixels) to high pixel density for 4K images (a horizontal resolution of 4,096 pixels) and, increasingly, 8K images (7,680 pixels). The higher-resolution images are for high-definition TV output, computer screens, and print. The lower resolution images are typically used on websites with pixel dimension restrictions or that need to balance quality with image load speed on slow connections.
Some stock photo websites offer unlimited numbers of downloads per image. Others provide just a single download, after which you'll need to repurchase the image at full price if you need to download it again.
Licensing restrictions are oriented around the type of use you have for the image, video, or photo as well as use frequency (royalty-free vs. more per-use limited "rights managed" images). For example, TV broadcast and print licensing will often be more restrictive than website image licensing. And, you can license images on some stock photo sites for your exclusive use, meaning that the image will be removed from their catalog once you purchase it. Be sure to read the licensing terms carefully for each asset you purchase and download. If you're found using it against the licensing agreement, you may be charged a steep fine for each out-of-license use.
It's also important to be aware that not every stock photo site will be available on internet connections having strong filtering. Stock photo sites can contain images and videos that are not family friendly or "safe for work". So, if you have trouble viewing a stock photo site due to a content warning in your browser, check with your network administrator about getting an exception made for that stock photo site's domain name.
As you decide which provider to use for your stock photos, it may be helpful to keep the following factors in mind:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online sources of stock photos today. We hope this information helps you find the perfect images for your website, newsletter, or other projects!
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