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The Best Stock Photo Services

Where is the Best Place to Find Stock Photos Online Today?

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

2024 Stock Photo Service Reviews

Shutterstock Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating

Shutterstock

5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

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 Review 4.5 Star Rating

Vecteezy

4.5 Star Rating

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 Review 4.5 Star Rating

JumpStory

4.5 Star Rating

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 Review 4.5 Star Rating

iStock

4.5 Star Rating

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 Review 4 Star Rating

Dreamstime

4 Star Rating

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 Review 4 Star Rating

Getty Images

4 Star Rating

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.

Deposit Photos Review 3.5 Star Rating

Deposit Photos

3.5 Star Rating

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 Review 2 Star Rating

Crestock

2 Star Rating

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 Review 1 Star Rating

BigStock

1 Star Rating

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 Review 1 Star Rating

Planet Stock Photo

1 Star Rating

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.

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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:

  • Cost. Check out the pricing as well as how often you need to pay. Are you looking for one-time photo selections? Or are you looking for something that offers you total access on an annual plan?
  • Selection. Keep in mind that there is often inherent variation in image quality across different stock photo services. The caliber of images is influenced by factors such as the photographers' expertise, experience, reputation, and their approach to capturing subjects, composition, and lighting. So make sure you check out the quality of the images and the variety of styles.
  • Resolution. Within the realm of stock photos, image resolutions are a key consideration. These resolutions are measured in pixels (dots) and encompass a spectrum, from lower pixel density suitable for web use (around 400 pixels horizontally) to high pixel density catering to 4K (4,096 pixels horizontally) and even 8K (7,680 pixels horizontally) images. The latter in particular is tailored for high-definition television output, computer screens, and print applications. You want to make sure that the service you choose has photos in the resolution you need for your project.
  • Downloads. The flexibility of stock photo services extends to download options as well. Some platforms offer unlimited downloads per image, while others adhere to a one-time download model. Understanding these download policies can influence your choice of stock photo provider, especially if you anticipate needing to reuse images frequently.

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.

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Stock Photo Service FAQ

A stock photo is one which can be licensed for multiple uses by multiple users. The subject of a stock photo is usually a person, place, thing, or concept that enhances the design and messaging of the user's visual product, such as an advertisement, web page, or other publication.
You pay for stock photos so that the photographer can be paid for their creative works and the stock photo website can profit from the sale of the image they're listing on behalf of the photographer. Using "any image you want" can get you into trouble if an image isn't licensed for reuse by the public.
Stock photos cost different amounts depending on the sites they're listed on and the licensing options you're getting. Prices can range from just $0.20 for a single, low-quality image, to hundreds of dollars for a single high-quality image, and up to thousands of dollars for multiple high-resolution, high quality images.
Yes. Most stock photography websites have a form you can fill out to sign up to submit your images to their catalog. If your work is accepted, they will pay you their going rate for each image, which is usually a bit less (for profit purposes) than what they charge the customer to download the image.
Yes, if you have paid for the license and are using it in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licensing. Any use outside of those terms and conditions will result in a demand from the legal team of the stock photo site and/or the photographer to either cease using the image or to pay the additional licensing and any fees set forth in the terms.
As you browse stock photo sites, you'll find varying levels of quality. The worst quality stock photos are either of questionable origin or were made by amateur photographers just getting started in the business. Bad images are often in demand and therefore continue to be sold because of the level of skill (or lack thereof) and poor discernment of good vs. bad on the part of the purchasers.
Generally it is okay to edit stock photos. Just be sure to double check the license to ensure that it is allowed to be modified.
You can trust that free photos are truly free, but be sure to check the licensing published for them on the stock site where you found them. If you're in doubt, download the free image and then upload it to the image search feature on advanced stock photo sites. If the uploaded image is flagged as one that they sell, then the image is likely a pirated copy. You should not use it if there's doubt that it is actually free of licensing restrictions.
The Best Reviews of Stock Photo Services