Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.
Monday, September 27th
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.
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.
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.
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!
Select any 2 Stock Photo Services to compare them head to head