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In today's digital age, high-quality stock photos can make or break a design. These resources are instrumental to a variety of creative and professional projects, spanning editorial, website design, commercial advertising, entertainment, and artistic industries. Stock photos serve as visual first impressions that help send a message.
Whether you have a website or even just a flier, a stock photo that reflects the essence of concepts and ideas can leave a lasting impression on your audience. And while there are a variety of companies that offer royalty-free stock images you can use in your designs, you may be surprised to know that there are huge differences between these companies - both in the number of photos they offer, and the price points you will pay.
Tuesday, March 5th
Shutterstock, a well-established player in the digital media industry, provides an impressive library of images, videos, and even music tracks weekly, serving both individuals and companies, including renowned brands like Google and AMC. With flexible pricing options, including free trials, credit packs, and subscriptions, Shutterstock caters to a wide range of users. The platform supports various image sizes and file formats, such as JPEG, EPS, and vectors, offering the choice of custom dimensions through the Shutterstock Create App. With an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, Shutterstock stands out as a dependable choice for stock design elements, earning the top spot in this review.
Vecteezy is an online platform that offers stock photos, vector graphics, and stock footage created by different artists. They have budget-friendly pricing options, including a yearly unlimited subscription for $108 or a monthly unlimited subscription for $14, both of which provide numerous features and unlimited downloads. Customer reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with a 4.9-star average rating, making Vecteezy a top choice for vector images and design resources.
JumpStory offers a stock photo library featuring over 25 million images suitable for commercial and individual use. Users enjoy unlimited downloads for various platforms, and JumpStory employs Artificial Intelligence to offer quick image searches and help users edit photos. Popular with users who have been members for multiple years, JumpStory stands out as a unique option with a simplistic pricing model. While you can't preview photos before you join, the feedback is clear: check out JumpStory even with just its free trial.
iStock, owned by Getty Images, offers a cost-effective alternative for creators and website owners who seek quality images without the corporate-level price tag. With over 23 million images, iStock offers versatile search filters, including ones for the lowest price and highest quality. A transparent return policy and online image editing tools help iStock stand out from the pack, and its budget-friendly pricing is a huge motivator for its high score.
Dreamstime is a leading stock photo platform that stands apart through its collection of royalty-free images. Established in 2000, it's a community-driven site where photographers worldwide contribute their work, thoroughly reviewed by experienced editors. However, Dreamstime has some mixed reviews, which brings down its rating in comparison to other companies: its wide selection brings customers in, but the pricing and reviews suggest you might want to double-check how much you're spending when you purchase from Dreamstime. Either way, it's still an exciting option to check out.
Getty Images is a well-known platform that stands out for its exceptional image quality. With a collection of millions of images, Getty Images offers user-friendly filters for easy navigation. However, its pricing structure is notably high, ranging from $140 to $450 per download, which may not suit budget-conscious users. Unfortunately, Getty Images faces criticism for its pricing and concerns about fair compensation for content creators. Though Getty Images remains a top choice for professionals, it may not be ideal for those on a budget.
DepositPhotos is a well-regarded platform for creative professionals, offering a diverse range of royalty-free image, video, and music files. The company has over 193 million files in its library, and with flexible subscription options, including monthly and yearly plans, it offers images for a variety of budgets. While reviews are generally positive, some customers have raised concerns about email notifications and the expiration of unused on-demand purchases, which brought down the company's overall ranking. Nonetheless, DepositPhotos remains a solid choice for cost-effective, high-quality imagery for a wide range of creative projects.
Crestock offers various stock photos with pricing as low as $1 per image. While its website design may not make the best first impression, Crestock provides an easy-to-follow process for downloading images. It offers a wide variety of photos, especially for generic searches, and you can find images in different orientations and various sizes. Pricing options include single purchases, credit packs, and subscriptions starting from $199 for a month to $1,799 for a year. However, while it appears to be a budget-friendly site, some reviews note questionable quality for the price, showing that Crestock doesn't compete as well as it could, even with low-cost photos.
BigStock, a stock photo website, stands out as one of the lowest-rated sites in our review. This is due to a few concerning reasons. First, it lacks transparency and details about its photos and usability. Then, it requires downloading a program to access its photos, and you can only license 5 images per day. And finally, the company's poor reputation, including a low rating (a concerning "F" from the BBB) and customer complaints, suggests it's not a reliable choice. With tons of better alternatives out there, you might want to leave BigStock as one of your last options.
Planet Stock Photo is a stock photo library that offers one of the most disappointing experiences out there today. They offer AI-generated images but lack transparency regarding image types and resolution. Prices for individual photos are high, starting at $50. The site lacks online presence and reviews, raising concerns about its quality and reliability. When you consider the highly limited selection of photos against everything else, it's clear that Planet Stock Photo deserves its low rating in our review.
Why do creatives need stock photos? It all has to do with licensing. Licensing restrictions come into play when a photographer or creator wants to protect their work from being used by others without their permission. So, pulling any photo off Google isn't going to do you any favors, especially if your project generates revenue. At the less stressful end, you can just be asked to take down the images, and you have to do all your work again. At worst, you may have a lawsuit or fines on your hands for using images that aren't yours.
Stock photo services are a way to avoid this problem altogether. By using royalty-free stock photos or paying fees to a service that offers licensed photos, you can be sure that you're allowed to use the photos for whatever purpose you need.
The landscape of stock photography is as diverse as the projects it supports. You can choose to purchase images on an individual basis or grab images in bundles or collections. Many platforms operate on a monthly or annual subscription, catering to the preferences and requirements of both casual users and frequent consumers who use stock photos for work. Typically, the cost per image decreases with extended subscription terms or larger image purchases.
Stock photo industry leaders house huge image repositories, with collections numbering in the tens of millions or more. For instance, one company alone has a collection of more than 400 million images. These agencies heavily depend on contributions from a global community of photographers and artists, and so much of your payment goes toward paying royalties to those talented folks who bring stock images to life.
Plus, the world of stock photography extends beyond static photos, encompassing a wide array of visual assets. While photos are the bedrock, stock photo services also provide access to videos, vector art, illustrations, editorial images for news stories, and preformatted templates tailored for social media, blogs, marketing materials, and advertisements.
With so many stock photo services out there, it can be hard to know where to start. So, we put together some things to keep in mind as you browse your options. Hopefully, these will help you narrow down photo companies a bit faster:
To help you find the best site to start pulling images, Top Consumer Reviews has researched and reviewed today's premier online destinations for stock photos. Our mission is to take the stress out of licensing worries and lengthy image searches, so you can get back to what you do best: creating beautiful designs.
Select any 2 Stock Photo Services to compare them head to head
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