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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, May 28th

2024 Stock Photo Service Reviews

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


5 Star Rating
  • Prices from $29 to $499 per month
  • Buy per photo also available
  • Weekly updates to image repository
  • Tens of millions of results on most searches
  • Download from 10 to 750 pictures per month
  • 4K photo resolutions
  • Vector images available
  • Video stock available
  • Audio available
  • On-site editing software
  • "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Shutterstock has been around for a while. Holding one of the spots as a long-standing presence in the world of digital media, Shutterstock is a name most photo researchers will recognize.

Go-to resource for stock images

Shutterstock is considered by many to be a go-to resource for a wide range of creative professionals. The company's vast library adds a staggering 1.7 million new images, videos, and music tracks per week. Providing balance as a platform for individuals and companies, Shutterstock serves an impressive number of partners including renowned brands like Google, AMC, AOL, and BuzzFeed.

Designers one-stop shop

When it comes to getting started at Shutterstock, you can easily start off with a free trial, and you can browse to your heart's content. Then, you can begin downloading images and music. With 10 free credits, you can access up to 10 images or 2 music tracks, where each credit is equivalent to 1 image or 4 credits for 1 music track. If you love the free trial, you can jump right in with a one-time payment "pack" or an annual or monthly subscription. You can get anywhere from 10-750 images per month with options for images up to 4K quality. You can choose from standard or enhanced licenses, depending on how much you spend, and with a full range of video, audio, photo, and vector assets, you can find everything you need in this one-stop shop.

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Top notch search filtering

Shutterstock especially excels by delivering a top-notch search experience. Their search filtering options go above and beyond, offering more choices than the average user may ever require, along with a default safe search feature to maintain work-appropriate and family-friendly results. To compare how many photos (and accurate results) you might find at Shutterstock vs. its competitors, we checked out the results for three search terms.

Tens of millions of accurate results

Two out of the three search terms we used were standard searches: "family" and "landscape" just to see the scope of broad keywords. The third search term, "underwater girl," is more complex to see how Shutterstock does with more specific criteria. Starting with "family" , we found that Shutterstock offered 10,887,437 different photos. For "landscape" there was an even more impressive 53,599,569 results. Finally, for "underwater girl" Shutterstock offered 92,998 highly accurate results. Plus, Shutterstock offers curated categories to simplify the process of discovering seasonal, topical, and conceptual image collections, sparing users the need to craft specific search terms unless they want to.

Full range of sizes and file types

Shutterstock offers a range of image sizes to cater to your specific projects. Images are accessible in Small (S), Medium (M), and Large (L) sizes. Small is ideal for digital use, while Medium is suitable for smaller prints and digital applications. Large is recommended for large prints and maintains the original quality. If you need a custom size, you can use the Shutterstock Create App to adjust the dimensions. The available file formats are JPEG for photographs and illustrations, EPS files for vectors, and a raster version of a vector image can be downloaded as a JPEG. All Shutterstock images are provided in 300 DPI for print and 72 DPI for web use and up to 4K quality for those full-screen necessities.

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Fair prices for individuals and teams

For solo users, Shutterstock presents an array of pricing plans designed to cater to individual needs. Those who prefer flexibility can opt for a pay-as-you-go plan, starting at 2 images for $29 up to 250 images for $575. If you prefer a subscription, the prices are a bit better when you commit to Shutterstock. For example, a month-to-month subscription starts at 10 images per month at $49 and goes up to 750 images per month at $499 with the freedom to cancel anytime. Alternatively, you could choose to commit to a 12-month contract that reduces costs to as low as $29 per month for 10 images, reaching $199 per month for 750 images.

Annual contracts for teams

If you're a company or larger team seeking collaboration tools and legal coverage for multiple users, an annual contract is a requirement. Pricing starts with options like 2 users and 750 images for $379 per month, or 3-10 users with 750 images for $479 per month. Any usage needs beyond this range require direct contact with the Shutterstock service team.

Online editor and Shutterstock Custom

Shutterstock provides a mobile app for convenient on-the-go searches, a robust online editor for streamlined image adjustments, and Photoshop plugins that enable seamless image discovery and download directly within Adobe Photoshop. And, in the realm of customized, on-brand content creation, Shutterstock Custom allows users to leverage the Shutterstock platform to draft creative briefs outlining their specific needs. A global network of talented artists and photographers will then generate compelling content tailored to your brand guidelines at an affordable cost.

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Solid scores and praise for quality

Customer reviews for Shutterstock are extremely positive when you check out the blog reviews for this service. The comments highlight Shutterstock's fair treatment of creators and users, image quality, user-friendly interface, and diverse format options. However, if you check out the third-party review sites, there are a range of complaints. But, most of these have to do with billing concerns, navigating multiple licensing types, or customers not paying attention to the requirements of a 1-year contract after the free trial. On the other hand, the company does have an outstanding rating with the Better Business Bureau, holding a top "A+" grade and accreditation.

Shutterstock takes the cake

Bottom line? Shutterstock does it all. This service stands as a comprehensive solution suitable for stock photo users across different budget brackets and needs. Whether you're an individual designer or a team and whether you're a beginner or a pro, Shutterstock has options for everyone who might need stock design elements. For its extensive features and favorable reviews, make sure you take a look at this industry giant too, because features like seamless transfer with Adobe programs are a huge bonus for designers of all levels. It offers flexibility, reliability, and affordability, making it the #1 choice for anyone in search of a dependable stock photography service.

Vecteezy Review 4.5 Star Rating


4.5 Star Rating
  • Prices from $9 to $14 per month
  • Millions of results on key searches
  • Unlimited downloads
  • Up to 6067 pixels
  • Vector images available
  • Video stock available
  • Creative team for unique custom work
  • 4.9 star average from reviewers

Vecteezy is a photo library platform that helps creatives get licenses for stock photos, vector graphics, and stock footage created by a variety of artists. Basic features at Vecteezy are available at no cost with advertisements and some usage restrictions. Pro subscribers, on the other hand, have access to better licensing options and a broader range of content. Established in May 2007, the company is owned and managed by its parent company, Eezy, located in Bowling Green, KY.

Download photos free

Getting started with Vecteezy is incredibly quick. You don't have to do a thing to start browsing and downloading. There are tons of totally free stock photos on this site that allow customers to get right to creating without ever paying a dime. However, keep in mind that the license for free images is a little limited. For example, Vecteezy's limitations require creatives to credit the image back to them when free images are used in a project. But as long as you follow this important guideline (and you don't make any money off the image), you can start designing as soon as you land on the site. If you want access to the premium options, you can join their 7-day free trial for their monthly or annual membership.

Simple to use

Using the Vecteezy search is incredibly simple. At the outset of your search, you can select from a variety of file types including images, photos, PNGs, PSDs, templates, vectors, and videos. To see how their library stacks up against the competition, we checked out the same three search terms we used at each stock photo site: "family," "landscape," and "underwater girl."

Fewer images than some competitors

Starting off with "family" we found that Vecteezy has a wide range of results. There are 504,537 total results with 115,778 of those being free photos. For "landscape" the site showed 1,451,351 image results with 320,283 of them totally free of charge. Finally, for the more complex term "underwater girl" we found just 5,087 results, which is lower than many competitors. 1,475 of those results were free to use. While there are some competitive results at Vecteezy, there are fewer total images here than with other competitors in our review.

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Wide range of resizable images

While there are plenty of photo and video options at Vecteezy, the spot where this image library really shines is with its vector images. Vectors are able to be scaled to any size without getting blurry, which makes them ideal for icons or images that you need to use across different copy. For the standard images, you can expect to find sizes between 640 pixels and 6067 pixels.

Competitive budget-friendly prices

There are two plan options at Vecteezy, which makes it simple to decide what you want. You can either pick from their Yearly Unlimited Subscription which costs only $108 per year (averaging out to about $9 per month) or the Monthly Unlimited Subscription which costs $14 per month. Either way, you gain access to a bunch of features including:

  • Thousands of free images
  • Pro resources
  • Unlimited downloads
  • Full commercial rights with images
  • No attribution required
  • Legal indemnification
  • Access to bundles
  • Collection downloads
  • Faster downloads with no ads

In both the monthly and annual subscriptions, you get a wide range of features for a very affordable price, especially with unlimited downloads. This pricing schedule especially makes Vecteezy highly competitive.

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Let them design for you

One thing we loved was that you can opt for custom-made resources at Vecteezy. To get a custom design from Vecteezy, start by submitting a request. Describe the design you have in mind with as much detail as possible. Once your request is received, the Vecteezy team will confirm it, ask any necessary questions, and begin working on your design. You can make unlimited revisions to the design to make sure it's exactly what you want. Just let them know the changes you need, and they'll make them. When you're satisfied with the design, you can simply approve it, and Vecteezy will provide the final file formats you've requested. It's a straightforward process to get your custom design done. The pricing for custom work depends on the particulars of your design choices, but you don't need to pay until you're sure you're ready to go forward with the project.

Almost perfect review scores

While Vecteezy and its parent company Eezy Inc. don't have pages on the Better Business Bureau, there are tons of reviews for Vecteezy that make up for the gap at the BBB. Vecteezy holds an extremely impressive 4.9-star average rating out of 5 stars. This accounts for well over 20,000 individual verified reviews. Customers repeatedly say that Vecteezy is one of their top locations for high-quality vector graphics. Customers also praise the company's user-friendly site and its free photo selection, and those who used the custom design loved working with the team at Vecteezy and praised their customer service.

Top option for vector images

There are a lot of great things to say about Vecteezy. With an incredible collection of vector images, free resources on every page, and a unique custom design center, the company certainly stands out from the pack. Their pricing, too, is extremely competitive, especially considering that you get unlimited downloads. However, there is one small drawback. If you're looking for the widest variety of stock photos, Vecteezy isn't going to take first place. It has a competitive library, and it's definitely one of the better sites out there. So, we highly recommend you hop on over and browse its free inventory next time you have a chance.

JumpStory Review 4.5 Star Rating


4.5 Star Rating
  • Prices from $25 to $468
  • 7-day free trial
  • Unlimited downloads
  • Vector images available
  • Video stock available
  • AI technology and machine learning
  • On-site editing software
  • Integrates with Wordpress
  • 14-day one-time purchase

Nicknamed the "Netflix of images," JumpStory is a stock photo library containing more than 25 million images suitable for use by businesses and individuals. Subscribers can download unlimited images for various platforms. It stands out with unique features, employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to facilitate quick image searches by correlating keywords with relevant pictures, thus enhancing marketing impact. For just $25 per month, users gain access to fast searches, a smart background-removal feature, image editing, AI TextMatch, and limitless downloads.

7 days free to test the site

Getting started with JumpStory is simple with the company's 7-day free trial. Once that's up, you can choose to join or cancel your membership. However, you do need to put in your payment information in order to qualify for the free trial, so if you decide you don't love working with JumpStory, you will need to go in and cancel before you get charged. We love that JumpStory is completely transparent about this.

Photo browsing is only for members

It's a good thing that JumpStory offers the trial because otherwise, customers have no way of browsing the photos on the site. While other businesses offer a pay-by-photo model, meaning that their entire library of photos (or videos) is available to browse freely, JumpStory hides its entire repository behind the paywall. Due to this inconvenience, we weren't able to do our image keyword search like at other stock photo sites.

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3 ways to search

During our research, we were able to find that JumpStory provides three distinct search methods for finding your desired images: the standard approach, the intelligent option, and search assistance.

  • Using the standard search, you input keywords directly into the platform's search bar (like with other sites we've received).
  • With the intelligent method, you can effortlessly copy and paste text into the platform, and it will efficiently locate relevant images within seconds. This is achievable through the TextMatch feature, which employs AI to match your text with appropriate visuals.
  • Lastly, the search assistance matches you up with JumpStory's professionals who will locate the perfect image for you.

Photos, videos, vectors and more

Genuine images are often favored over images that "look" like stock photos for their ability to better engage audiences and customers. With JumpStory, you can access authentic-looking images without breaking the bank. The platform offers access to its library of photos, illustrations, vectors, and icons suitable for commercial and personal use. You also have the option to convert any image to PDF, TIFF, EPS, or PSD formats, so that any image offered on JumpStory can easily be translated to whatever you need it for. The best part? You get unlimited downloads at JumpStory.

Pay once, by month, or by year

The pricing at JumpStory is a big win. Instead of offering complex prices for different numbers of downloads, JumpStory offers three ways to pay. You can choose an individual subscription, a Pro subscription if you want to add other members to your plan, and a one-time fee option. Both the Individual plan and the Pro plan can be billed yearly or monthly. For the individual subscription, you get access to JumpStory's entire library and your own online archive to store the images. This costs $348 a year or $58 per month.

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More features if you go Pro

If you want to go Pro, there are a ton more features. These include the same features as the individual plan plus:

  • Global insurance on all visuals
  • Smart editor and background removal technology
  • Plugins for WordPress and Microsoft PowerPoint and/or Word
  • Dedicated search assistant
  • 1-5 users

With all the bonuses the pro plan makes a lot of sense, but it does cost $468 per year or $78 per month. Finally, they also offer a one-time fee option for $25. This grants you full access to the site for 14 days and includes all the pro tools.

AI search with machine learning tools

There are some really cool features at JumpStory that make their platform worth your time. Their incorporation of AI tools and machine learning harnesses the principles of visual and neuro-marketing to boost click and conversion rates. Basically, their photos are designed to help your SEO for web design. Plus, you can easily search images and get the top-performing options listed right at the top of your results.

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Editing tools included on-site

Furthermore, JumpStory offers photo editing tools, allowing users to crop, adjust contrast, add text and logos, and even remove image backgrounds using AI-powered background removal. Plus, you can easily convert any file type and switch easily from using JumpStory to other editing platforms like the Adobe suite depending on what you need. But if you don't have standalone editing software, you can just use JumpStory's right on their platform. We love this kind of all-in-one library and design site.

Top-rated for ease of use

JumpStory has a stand-out reputation to go along with its exciting tools and library. The company has rave reviews across various platforms. With an impressive average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 across multiple review sites, there are plenty of customers out there using and enjoying JumpStory. Customers praise the wide variety of photos and how easy it is to use the tools on the site. Many customers have been using the platform for several years, and still continue to renew their memberships noting that the company has everything they need in one place. One thing we would have liked was to see how the company was rated by the Better Business Bureau, but according to the BBB JumpStory doesn't have a listing there yet.

Best option for fair pricing plans and on-site tools

JumpStory stands out as a reasonably priced service offering unique and unlimited photo downloads. With amazing features like AI searches, machine learning technology, online editing software, and even global insurance of image usage, JumpStory has an amazing stock photo site built for individual and company success. The only catch is that to get access to all of these features, you do need to buy the "Pro" version which costs more than their basic subscription. Plus, you can't preview any of the photos before you subscribe, which is a little frustrating. However, with high user ratings and impressive results, JumpStory remains one of the top-rated services in our evaluation. Make sure you check them out if you're interested in a one-stop shop with uncomplicated pricing.

iStock Review 4.5 Star Rating


4.5 Star Rating
  • Prices from $29 to $399 per month
  • Buy per photo also available
  • Tens of millions of results on many searches
  • Download from 10 to 750 pictures per month
  • Photo sizes from 300 x 250 pixels and 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Vector images available
  • Video stock available
  • AI technology
  • On-site editing software
  • Search by image
  • 14-day return policy
  • "A+" rating from the BBB

iStock, a stock photo site owned by Getty Images, presents itself as a cost-effective alternative built to serve creators and website owners who aren't looking to pay for photos at corporate-level costs. The subscription plans offered by iStock cater to customers who operate individually and have much lower budget limits than the clients served by Getty Images itself. Considered a more practical avenue to explore a wide repository of royalty-free images, iStock can get customers the materials they need without worrying about breaking the bank.

Choose between essentials and signature photos

For those seeking cost-effective images, there are a variety of ways to get started. The best option for budget-conscious users is to sign up for one of iStock's subscription plans. Users can select between a Basic subscription, unlocking access to the Essentials collection (low-cost selections) exclusively, or a Premium subscription that grants access to both Essentials and Signature (higher-cost, higher-quality images) collections.

Go month-to-month or annual subscription

Notably, within each subscription model, users enjoy the flexibility of choosing a month-to-month commitment without long-term contracts or lower pricing by opting for a 12-month subscription. You can also choose to purchase images through on-demand "credit packs." These credit packs are available in multiple quantities of 1 credit to 300 credits (where credits are equal to images). Once you've decided how you want to pay for your photos, iStock offers an array of convenient actions. You can download your image, or even engage in real-time photo editing.

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Great search filters

Navigating through iStock's library is a breeze. Users can explore trending searches, popular categories, and the artist and video clip features of the month. The search feature on iStock mirrors the sophistication of its parent site, Getty Images, in terms of versatility and filter options. You can expect to find images between 300 x 250 pixels and 2560 x 1440 pixels. On top of that, iStock introduces two supplementary filters: one allowing users to explore based on the lowest price (Essentials) and another to identify the best quality (Signature). This helps customers find the most cost-effective selection if need be.

Millions of results

In order to see how many results there are at iStock compared to the selection at competing sites, we used the same three terms during our image searches: "family," "landscape," and "underwater girl." For "family," there were over 4,973,090 results. For the term "landscape" iStock offered 21,147,496 results. And finally, for "underwater girl," there were 23,134 results. This is a highly competitive repository of photos.

Search by image tool

One feature we loved while browsing iStock is its ability to search by image. This tool allows users to upload an image and use iStock's algorithm to identify similar images based on AI technology. On top of that, customers can use this tool to see if a particular image they already have is available for licensing within the iStock catalog, streamlining the image selection process if you find an image somewhere else.

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Trendy inventory for current designs

iStock offers more than just images. Its inventory of resources includes a variety of visual assets, such as photos, illustrations, vector images, and videos. Helpfully, each asset type is meticulously classified into curated sets, a signature collection, and an essentials collection. As a bonus, the thematic alignment of each category and collection with seasons, holidays, and contemporary events helps customers find photos that stay in line with trends, so designs using iStock imagery are practically guaranteed to remain in fashion.

Flexible prices to meet your particular needs

When you get down to the pricing, it's clear that iStock is much more budget-friendly than its parent company. There are three primary subscription plans: Basic, Premium, and Premium + Video, which let you choose between 10-750 photos per month (with the ability to roll over your unused photos to the following month), and you can choose between a monthly or annual commitment with the following price options:

  • Month-to-month
    • Basic: $40 to $199/month
    • Premium: $99 to $399/month
    • Premium+ Video: $149 to $349/month
  • Annual
    • Basic: $29 to $167/month
    • Premium: $70 to $334/month
    • Premium + Video: $99 to $265/month

On top of those plans, you can also choose to buy "on-demand" through credit packs. The prices range from $12 for a single photo to $2,400 for 300 images and 50 videos.

Refunds within 14 days

iStock is totally transparent about returns. In the event of a change of heart following the purchase of a credit pack, users get a refund within 14 days of the invoice, provided that they haven't spent any of the credits or downloaded photos for their subscription plan.

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On-site editing software

Like a few other competitors in our review, iStock offers a completely online editor that equips users with the tools to complete basic cropping, rotation, and resizing (including formats suitable for standard social media dimensions). Customers can also expect to be able to edit text, add filters, and incorporate additional images for composite projects.

Fan favorite compared to parent company

Feedback and reviews for iStock resonate with positivity, with users praising the platform for its exceptional image quality, user-friendly interface, diverse content library, and competitive pricing. While a minor concern is raised by a subset of users regarding the possibility of some iStock illustrations being shared on other platforms, this won't be a problem for most designers. Further, on blog sites, iStock is particularly popular, holding a solid 4-star rating overall. iStock also holds an "A+" rating from the BBB, as it shares the same listing as its parent site, Getty Images. And, it does appear to outperform Getty Images in the reviews, which is refreshing.

Balance of budget and quality

iStock stands out as a great choice for customers looking for an affordable stock photo repository with high-quality images, vectors, and videos. iStock is designed for the budget-conscious creator, editor, and image user. With amazing features like an on-site editor, AI-driven image searches, and a return policy, iStock outperforms many companies in this review. iStock has earned a very high rating in our review.

Dreamstime Review 4 Star Rating


4 Star Rating
  • Prices from $14.99 to $1,750 for credits
  • Prices from $25 to $219 per month
  • Tens of millions of results on many searches
  • Download from 5 to 9,000 images per month
  • Extended licenses
  • Photo sizes from 480px-12mp+
  • Vector images available
  • Music and video stock available
  • AI technology in searches
  • "Safe search" feature
  • "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB

Dreamstime proudly declares itself to be the world's largest stock photo platform with an impressive user base of 32 million individuals. This juggernaut of a platform offers a variety of royalty-free images. Established in 2000, Dreamstime offers a vibrant and dynamic community-driven platform.

Photos from around the world

The extensive stock image collection includes contributions by photographers around the globe. The site maintains a solid process of quality control through the review and approval of all images by seasoned editors. Dreamstime regularly refreshes its database with a multitude of new images and titles each day. It's important to note that while many images are offered free of charge, they are still copyrighted, and for those seeking content without copyright restrictions, there's a wonderful array of public domain images available.

Test out the platform for free before you decide

Dreamstime makes it incredibly straightforward to get started. With a no-obligation 7-day free trial, you can test out the platform and explore its wide pool of resources. During the trial, you can download up to 15 images. There are plenty of options if you do decide to join the site after your trial. You can choose a credit package or explore monthly and yearly subscriptions.

Searching for images is a breeze

Unearthing the ideal images on Dreamstime is a breeze, courtesy of the omnipresent search bar visible from every page on the site. But it doesn't stop there; Dreamstime also helps your search experience by offering numerous filtering options that allow you to hone in on your perfect pic. Criteria include relevance, best-selling status, latest uploads, content featuring people, pricing tiers, licensing types, media properties, and more. And for those who want to avoid any NSFW photos during their browsing session, there's a "Safe Search" feature to keep any results that are appropriate for the workplace or that fit child-friendly viewing standards.

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Multi-millions of results

To showcase how Dreamstime stacks up against the competition in terms of search results, we used the same three search parameters at every stock photo company. The terms we used include two "popular," generic search terms, "family" and "landscape" , and one more complicated search term to find a lesser-used set of photos: "underwater girl" . The searches turned up 4,505,539 results for "family," 19,111,152 results for "landscape," and an impressive 20,601 results for "underwater girl" .

Images from 480px-12mp+

At Dreamstime, you'll find a variety of photo file types to suit your creative needs. These different image types provide a range of sizes and formats to accommodate various projects. Whether you need a smaller image for web use or a high-resolution file for print, Dreamstime offers flexibility in price and options whether you are in need of a large image or a little icon. You can even find resizable vector images. Here's a list of the available options:

  • Extra Small (480px)
  • Small (800px)
  • Medium (3 - 5MP)
  • Large (5 - 8MP)
  • Extra Large (8 - 12MP)
  • Maximum (Over 12MP)
  • TIFF Maximum
  • Vector/RAW Original size

Pick from credits or subscriptions

You can choose to purchase a photo license from Dreamstime through credit packages or subscriptions (monthly and annual).

  • The credit packages range from 3 credits (which means you can download 3 images, videos, or audio) to 550 credits. The prices for these packages range from $14.99 to $1,750.
  • If you decide to go with the subscription plan instead, you can choose between monthly subscriptions or an annual plan.
    • The 1-month plans offer a range of downloads for photos starting from 5 downloads per month and going as high as 750 images per month. The prices for these range from $25 to $219.
    • If you decide to go with the annual subscription, you get access to 750 downloads per month and pay for the whole year which costs $2,028.

The company offers a variety of free images also, for customers who don't want to subscribe right away. And, you can download anywhere from 5-9,000 images each month.

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Stock photos backed by AI technology

A standout feature of Dreamstime is that the company has harnessed the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Using this cutting-edge technology for automatic image classification, enriched by object detection, keyword suggestions, and smart cropping, Dreamstime offers a more tailored search experience for users. However, as AI is a newer technology, Dreamstime might occasionally struggle to restrict the results solely to your specific category. But as technology advances, you can expect these results to grow even more specific.

Mixed reviews raise questions about reliability

Our research into Dreamstime's reputation led us to a mixed opinion of the company as a whole. To start with, Dreamstime holds an impressive "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, which conveys a level of confidence in the business as a whole. However, when we checked out Dreamstime on third-party verified review sites, the average rating across multiple sites was 3.5 out of 5 stars, showing some highly mixed opinions about the site. Some of the complaints included being charged prior to the end of the free trial, prices at the site being higher than competitors, and some customers noted that they were overcharged for larger packages when they only purchased a handful of photos. The positive reviews included praises for Dreamstime's selection of free images and many reviews gave this stock photo company props for the user-friendliness of the platform.

Wide selection, but keep an eye on your budget

While Dreamstime has a lot of solid benefits like large numbers of results, free images, and AI-backed search technology, it is a little pricier than the competition. Plus, with some mixed reviews, it doesn't quite reach the top score of our best companies. On the other hand, the company is armed with a commendable inventory of high-quality images and competitive pricing. Overall, Dreamstime establishes itself as a compelling option and it's definitely worthy of consideration. Its AI technology and "safe search" features help Dreamstime stand out from the pack and outweigh some of the poor reviews, earning it a solid rating overall.

Getty Images Review 4 Star Rating

Getty Images

4 Star Rating
  • Prices from $140 to $450 per download
  • Premium membership only available on request
  • Millions of results on most searches
  • Download a minimum of 5 pictures per month
  • Exclusive licenses
  • Photo sizes from 3 megapixels to 256 megapixels
  • Vector images available
  • Video stock available
  • AI technology
  • "A+" rating from the BBB

Most designers and photo fans, even casual ones, have heard the name Getty Images before. Even a basic Google image search will turn up pictures covered in the familiar Getty Images watermark.

A league of their own

When we delve into the stock imagery industry, it becomes evident that Getty Images is in a league of its own. Labeling their photography as mere "stock" feels too simplistic, considering the exceptional quality, composition, and subject matter that define their visual repertoire. While it's true that Getty Images positions itself on the higher end of the pricing spectrum in comparison to other stock photo services, the quality offered on this platform is pretty much unrivaled.

Browse right away

Getting started with Getty Images is one of the most user-friendly experiences out there. You can browse right away, and you'll only have to create an account when you're ready to pay. To register you just need to put in your basic personal info, and you're able to start downloading photos. You can choose either to pay as you go and only download the photos you need, or you can choose a tailor-made premium access plan (though this does require a call with customer service to get started).

Unique photos with a competitive variety

Navigating the Getty Images platform is a breeze, thanks to their wide array of user-friendly search filters. These filters cover virtually every attribute imaginable, ranging from sorting options like best match, newest, and most popular, down to more granular facets such as location, photographer, collections, color, and style. You can expect to find photos, videos, vector images, and even AI-generated material.

Best Stock Photo Services

Expected more results

To take a look at how many results there are at Getty Images compared to other stock photo sites in this review, we checked out the same search parameters (keywords "family," "landscape," and "underwater girl" ) at each company. At Getty Images the results showed 1,604,471 images for "family," 4,208,206 images for "landscape," and 4,886 results for the unusual search "underwater girl" . For being an industry giant, we did expect a wider selection for the individual photos, but the site still gets a big nod for the quality of these images and the fact that you won't find them anywhere else.

Strict size guidelines for crisp photos

One of the things you can count on with Getty Images is high-quality photos. Any photo submitted to Getty Images must meet specific size criteria, ranging from at least 3 megapixels to a maximum of 256 megapixels. For instance, an image with dimensions of 2000 x 1333 pixels (totaling less than 3,000,000 pixels) falls below the minimum size requirement. All of the photos must be in the RGB color space and utilize the highest available image resolution without artificially enlarging it. So, no matter what you download, you'll be getting a massive crisp image that you can put anywhere in your creative designs.

High prices for top-quality images

While the quality of Getty Images' content is undisputed, we need to address the pricing. Their pricing structure comes at a definite premium. Single image and video prices span the range of $140 to $450 per download, with an important caveat: re-downloading the same image incurs an additional charge. Plus, the pay-as-you-go packs require a minimum purchase of 5 downloads, which may not be ideal for customers who need only one or two images for a one-time project. Overall, the pricing at Getty Images is very expensive. While this does reflect the quality of the photos (or videos) you get, it's still a much higher cost than many competitors. This pricing model may place Getty Images beyond the budgetary reach of many non-professional users.

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Top-notch partnerships and exclusive rights

One neat thing to keep in mind is that Getty Image collaborates with renowned global brands like Sony, BBC Studios, Verizon, and NHK to offer its customers top-quality premium content, and exclusive commercial privileges. Plus, the content creators who contribute to Getty Images, including photographers, videographers, and illustrators, are among the finest in their respective fields. They consistently produce outstanding work, capturing a wide range of subjects, and their impressive portfolios and accolades speak to their expertise. Getty Images also extends the courtesy of exclusive use licensing, ensuring that the image you select remains off-limits to others once downloaded. This means it will be removed from their search and catalog, preserving its exclusivity for your projects.

Has a bad rap with photographers

Surprisingly, despite the stock photo quality, Getty Images' reputation doesn't stand out from the pack. While the company does hold an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, the user ratings for this company are fairly low. Getty Images only holds a 2.1 star rating out of 5 on average across multiple third-party review sites. Customers complained that even with images they were promised would be "free" they ended up paying a price at this company. And there are a host of complaints from the contributors themselves saying they aren't being fairly compensated for their creative work being sold on Getty Images. So, according to the reviews, it isn't an ideal spot for creators or customers.

Good but not for everybody

Like any prominent business, Getty Images draws both criticism and acclaim, with customer reviews spanning a spectrum from dissatisfaction to wholehearted recommendations. However, based on our observations, the positives significantly outweigh the negatives, unless you're working on a budget. For companies or professional designers, this is going to be one of the go-to spots for high-quality images. But if you're not a pro and you're just looking for some stock photos, this may not be ideal for you. The price point for just one photo is much higher here than with the competition. Still, Getty Images earns a solid rating in our review.

Deposit Photos Review 3.5 Star Rating

Deposit Photos

3.5 Star Rating
  • Prices from $29 to $199 per month
  • Prices from $29 to $219 on-demand
  • Millions of results on some searches
  • Download between 25-750 images per month
  • Extended licenses
  • Various photo sizes with a minimum of 2400 x 1600 pixels
  • Vector images available
  • Music and video stock available
  • Online editing program
  • "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB

DepositPhotos has a solid reputation as a go-to choice for an array of creative professionals, including website owners, television production teams, social media publishers, and newsrooms. The platform offers royalty-free image, video, and music files, and it acts as a commercial hub connecting creators of premium licensed content with satisfied customers worldwide. DepositPhotos was founded by Dmitry Sergeev and is headquartered in New York, USA. Since its inception in 2009, DepositPhotos quickly expanded to over a million files, establishing itself as one of the world's most rapidly growing stock photo repositories.

Flexible subscription options

Getting started with DepositPhotos is super flexible. The company offers an assortment of ways to gain access to its repository of photos. You can choose one of the DepositPhotos subscription plans which come in both monthly and yearly variants. Or, you can choose one of their on-demand download options that offer standard and extended licenses. One feature we really liked was that if you choose a subscription plan, any unused downloads can be seamlessly carried over to the subsequent month, and if the allocated subscription limit is exceeded, additional images are conveniently available for just $1 each. Plus DepositPhotos extends generous license rights to its users, granting them lifelong access to images for marketing or advertising endeavors.

User-friendly search functionality

The search functionality on DepositPhotos is both user-friendly and highly effective, skillfully facilitating the discovery of specific images within each file type category. You can expect to find photos as well as vector images in your image search. To compare the results at DepositPhotos with other stock photo companies in our review, we used the same search parameters at each site.

Acceptable results for photo searches

Our searches include "family," "landscape," and one more specific search, "underwater girl" . The search term "family" came back with 1,127,615 results. For "landscape" there were even more results - up to a whopping 2,200,311. Finally, for our more complex search "underwater girl" DepositPhotos had a fairly impressive 10,867 results, showing that even searches that aren't generic are supported at this stock photo site. On top of that, it's super easy to download the photos once you find them. And, if you have a subscription, and you don't use all your downloads in one month, the number will roll over to the following month, ensuring you always get to use all of the downloads you pay for.

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Millions of files with large pixel sizes

With a truly massive repository housing an impressive 193 million files encompassing a wide spectrum of media, such as photographs, vectors, editorial images, videos, illustrations, and templates, DepositPhotos leaves little room for doubt that you will find precisely what you seek. Looking into the specifics of the images and downloadables you can find at DepositPhotos, we found that the quality of images starts fairly high here. Photos must be in JPEG/JPG format in RGB color, and DepositPhotos won't accept any images under 2400 x 1600 pixels.

3 subscription plans to choose from

There are three subscription plans to choose from at DepositPhotos. Two plans are annual, and one plan is monthly. These include:

  • Month-to-month: This plan starts as low as 25 images per month and goes up to 750 images per month. The prices range from $36 to $199/month.
  • Annual, but pay monthly: This plan starts at 30 images per month and goes up to 750 images per month. The prices range from $29 to $160/month.
  • Annual prepay: This plan requires that you pay the entire year in advance. You can get anywhere from 30-750 images per month, and the prices range from $299 to $1,699.

Pay on demand also available

On top of the subscription plans, you can also choose to pay on-demand. The minimum purchase is 5 photos which costs $29 (at $5.80 per photo). The maximum you can purchase is 125 images which costs $219 (at $1.75 per photo). As a bonus, there are also a handful of photos at DepositPhotos that are totally free; you can find them while limiting the parameters of your search. However, in a search that turns up 10,000+ images, only about 2 of those will be free, so the no-cost selection is much more limited.

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Online editing program for quick designs

One special extra you can find at DepositPhotos introduces users to Crello, an intuitive online image editor, which is useful to start your designs right there on the site. Within the editor, users can develop a new design from a pre-existing template or start their new creative project from scratch. The toolkit encompasses layered photos, videos, music, animations, objects, backgrounds, and text, offering limitless possibilities to unleash your creativity.

Mixed reviews for confusing deadlines and emails

A majority of users who have interacted with DepositPhotos and Crello express overall satisfaction, though some of the third-party reviews are somewhat mixed with an average star rating of 3.5 stars out of 5. Reviews often commend the user-friendly interface offered by DepositPhotos and praise customer support. However, some users have shared less favorable experiences. Among the criticisms are complaints that customers received too many annoying email notifications as well as not being notified that unused on-demand photo purchases will expire if they wait too long. On the other hand, DepositPhotos is supported with a full "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau which shows that at some level, the site has a solid reputation despite the mixed reviews.

Solid option for a one-stop shop

DepositPhotos offers a solid option for individuals in pursuit of cost-effective high-quality stock photo images. The company has a wide range of results for a variety of search parameters and offers a one-stop shop approach with photos, videos, and music. It strikes a balance between accessibility and functionality, rendering it an excellent resource for a wide range of creative projects. However, some negative feedback from customers did bring down the company's rating in this review. But we highly suggest you check DepositPhotos out if you're looking for a site that provides everything in one quick user-friendly location.

Crestock Review 2 Star Rating


2 Star Rating
  • Prices from $1 to $15 per photo
  • Monthly subscription from $199
  • Over 100,000 results on some key terms
  • Download up to 20 photos per day
  • Extended licenses
  • Various photo sizes
  • Vector images available

Crestock is a platform that, while relatively small compared to the heavyweights in the industry, still offers a decent number of stock photos. However, if customers are easily swayed by first impressions, Crestock may not stand out as a top contender. The small landing page with lots of small text, price numbers, and old-fashioned site design could give the impression that this site is a scam rather than a legitimate stock photo database.

Three ways to download

Getting images from Crestock is a breeze, and it involves four simple steps. First, create a free account (yep - Free!). Then, you can choose between individual image purchases, credit packages (where you prepay for a certain number of photo credits), or monthly subscriptions. For individual images, just click "Add to cart" under the specific photos you want. If you decide to pay as you go, you can pay through credit card or PayPal. Finally, once you've selected your images and paid, you can easily download them to your device. There doesn't appear to be a limit to the number of photos you can download if you pay as you go. If you use a subscription, you can download 20 photos per day. And if you use credits, you're only limited by the number of credits you have per the size of the photo you want.

Bare bones website design

The design and functionality of Crestock come across as spartan. A striking feature of this interface was the small font size across the different site pages, which could be frustrating to customers who are worried about eye strain. However, when we went through the photo browsing process, it was pretty easy. To give you a solid idea of how the photo collection at Crestock stacks up against competitors, we checked out the same search terms at each stock photo company.

Best Stock Photo Services

Smaller result set than other competitors

We chose terms that might be popular for business and creative photo projects: "family" and "landscape" . We also tried a more complex search term "underwater girl" to see how the site did with more specific queries. For the search term "family" Crestock offered 58,064 different photo results. For "landscape" there were 121,023 matches. And finally, for the more unique search "underwater girl" we turned up 459 different photos. In general, there is a decent variety at Crestock, but it does yield more robust results with generic search terms.

Small, large, and resizable photos

At Crestock you can explore different file types, including photographs and resizable vector illustrations. When it comes to image sizes, Crestock provides options ranging from XS to XL with dimensions including:

  • XS: 400x267px JPG
  • S: 800x533px JPG
  • M: 1774x1183px JPG
  • L: 2509x1673px JPG
  • XL: 3073x2049px JPG

On top of that, you can find images in different orientations, whether it's panoramic, horizontal, vertical, or square.

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Three ways to pay

At Crestock, you have several different ways to pay for images.

  • First, you can choose to pay by photo. If you go with the single purchase option the prices per photo look like this:
    • XS: $1
    • S: $4
    • M: $6
    • L: $10
    • XL: $15
  • Second, you can choose to buy a pack of credits and pay for photos until those credits are gone. If you go the credits route, you can choose between 10 credits (equal to 10 photos) and 1,000 credits (equal to 1,000 photos). The credit options cost from $10 to $600, which saves you a lot of money if you need to purchase a lot of photos for your creative or professional endeavors.
  • Finally, you can choose to subscribe. The subscription costs between $199 for 1 month up to $1,799 for 12 months. There are some limitations for photos ranging from 600 photos max for the 1-month subscription up to 7,300 images max for the 12-month subscription. So, it's important to keep in mind how many photos you might need before picking a particular subscription.

Extended licenses available

One feature we particularly appreciated at Crestock was the option to add an extended license to your purchase. There are four extended licenses to choose from and each one costs an additional $50. The licenses you can choose from are:

  • Consumer Merchandise License: Use the image on products for commercial resale (t-shirts, mugs, posters).
  • Electronic Templates License: Resell or distribute the image as part of electronic templates (e-greeting cards, PowerPoint templates).
  • Unlimited Print Run License: Reproduce the image without quantity limits.
  • Unlimited Seats License: Allow any number of employees from the same company to use the image.
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Not a lot of buzz for Crestock

Crestock doesn't have a lot of presence on third-party or verified review sites. We only found a handful of blog-style reviews of the website, during our research into the company's reputation. Crestock also doesn't have a presence on the Better Business Bureau. Crestock garnered some favorable reviews, primarily regarding its cost-effective nature. Yet, these reviews often also included comments that the value for the money may not be what it should. Considering that there are much stronger selections on competing sites, and the general lack of buzz for Crestock, it might be better to check out one of our higher-rated options instead.

Worth glancing through, but not a top company

Overall, Crestock might be a solid choice for customers looking for single photos for the low price of $1 per photo (if small images work for your project). However, you may want to check elsewhere if you're looking for top-quality, high-resolution photos that are worth the cost. While Crestock may serve as a viable choice for those mindful of budget constraints, it falls short of delivering the quality and uniqueness that could make projects stand out.

BigStock Review 1 Star Rating


1 Star Rating
  • Prices from $59 to $79 per month
  • 125-million photos
  • Requires downloaded software client
  • License 5 photos per day

When you're looking for stock photo sites, there are usually some standard expectations: a clean, easy-to-use site, and a wealth of details regarding the kind of photos and examples of how you use them. However, with BigStock, you're getting the opposite of this. The site, prior to signing up, consists of only two pages, and the details regarding the photos themselves are scarce. Without knowing more about what you're paying for at BigStock, it's a little hard at the start to gauge how worthwhile this site is over other more transparent stock photo retailers.

Enter your email for a free trial

Getting started with BigStock is super straightforward, but not in a way that makes customers feel very confident. There is only one short page to land on, and from there the only links are to log in or create an account. There is an option to start a free trial if you put in your email; but other than noting the free trial will last one week, the details about it are few and far between. For example, it's unclear if you have to put in your financial information before you can proceed.

Not enough detail on the website

Since you can't get into BigStock without signing up, the details on its usability are also slim. According to our research, there is one major difference to be aware of: instead of using the photos on the site as it is, you have to download a program to your desktop in order to use BigStock. It also shows that you can only download up to 5 images a day no matter whether you choose to pay or use the free trial.

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Download a program first?

It seems a bit odd that you need to download a program, though, compared to other sites that have their catalog of photos available in an online database. It definitely doesn't offer a lot of confidence to customers who are looking for a quick start and easy access to stock photos. Plus, with no search function or photos to skim through, it's impossible for a customer to know if BigStock has the photo content they need without downloading some unknown software.

Flat rate for 5 photos a day

There are two pricing models available with BigStock: monthly and annual. Each includes a one-week free trial if you commit to paying right away. The options both offer 5 photos per day and are both billed monthly, though the prices are different depending on the length of your commitment. The prices shake out as follows:

  • 1-month subscription (recurring): $79
  • 1-year subscription: $59 per month

Missing details about stock photos

According to the BigStock front page, you will gain access to 125 million royalty-free stock photos. However, you can only license 5 of them per day, which seems very slim compared to other sites. Further, there are no details about the quality and sizing of these photos, which makes it difficult for potential customers to judge whether or not the photos at BigStock are going to give them the quality or pixels that they need for a particular job.

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Customers have serious concerns about safety

With so many questionable aspects of BigStock, it's not a huge surprise that the company has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. On top of that, BigStock only has a 1.8-star average (out of 5 stars) across various third-party review sites. According to the reviews, customers feel like this business is dishonest. Some customers have had problems with their downloaded photos disappearing, while others complained about issues with their credit cards and the company charging more money than they promised they would. So, customers agree overall that BigStock isn't particularly safe.

Lackluster reputation puts it at the bottom

BigStock has a lot of red flags, but its reputation especially leads us to conclude that this stock photo company is one of the worst options out there. With limited photos, limited information about the photos, and an unusual downloadable client, it's definitely not the best choice for easy use or confident photo browsing. Our suggestion would be to start your stock photo journey at a site that holds a higher ranking. Given the low ratings from reviewers, it might be safest to stay away from BigStock entirely.

Planet Stock Photo Review 1 Star Rating

Planet Stock Photo

1 Star Rating
  • Prices from $50 per photo
  • Packages from $50 to $200
  • Almost zero results with key searches
  • AI-generated photos

While the name Planet Stock Photo might have you thinking that this site is going to be out of this world, you might be disappointed with this stock photo library. The company bills itself as a "celestial companion for all your imagery needs," which might have been cute (instead of cheesy) if the site lived up to those expectations.

Disappointing website

Right off the bat, Planet Stock Photo has a lackluster website experience. The site looks old-fashioned and has a lot of discordant colors, and different text fonts and sizes. While there are some interesting advertised features like AI-generated images, the company doesn't strike users as being the most reliable site for stock photos.

Quickly start browsing

On the bright side, if you want to start browsing right away, you can easily start searching for photos from the Planet Stock Photo front page. You can also quickly browse their collection of AI-generated photos to get a clear idea of what you might find if you generate something yourself. You can buy single photos right away, or if you want to save them for later, you'll have to make an account.

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Many searches turn up zero photos

So, here's the thing. If you're using a stock photo site, you expect there to be photos to choose from, right? Well, at Planet Stock Photo, the options are few and far between. For example, when we did our keyword search at Planet Stock Photo with the same terms we used at all of the competing sites, we found some of the terms turned up zero results. We started with "family" which is a generic term. At most competitors, this turned up millions of results. At Planet Stock Photo, there wasn't a single result for "family" stock photos in the site's library. As for "landscape," another generic search term that usually turns up even more results than "family" , there were only 18 stock photos. Finally, for our more complex search "underwater girl" we weren't surprised to see there were no results. We tried just simplifying the term to "underwater" and still turned up nothing.

High prices per photo

Planet Stock Photo offers two methods for purchasing images. When buying photos taken by human photographers, the cost is at least $50 per image, and you can browse the selection of images and add individual photos to your cart. On the bright side, if you order 5 or more images, you can enjoy substantial discounts of up to 50%. However, this doesn't stop the individual photos from being fairly expensive when compared to industry standards. For AI-generated images, you have to buy photo credit packages. There are three options to choose from:

  • Bronze Package: $50 for 10 credits
  • Silver Package: $100 for 25 credits
  • Gold Package: $200 for 80 credits

Details are scarce on size and resolution

There's not a lot of detail on Planet Stock Photo regarding the image types available. It's clear the site offers both photos and AI-generated images, but details about pixels or resolution aren't available. We checked out the FAQ which only noted that customers can resize images downloaded from Planet Stock Photo, so they can have "100 different sizes" in theory. We wish Planet Stock Photo was more transparent about their photo sizes and resolution details.

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Zero buzz for Planet Stock Photo

One point of concern regarding this site is its lack of buzz online. Planet Stock Photo doesn't have any presence with the Better Business Bureau, which is usually okay, but there also aren't any reviews to give us a clear picture of how this business is doing. Instead of reviews, our searches turned up sites offering "planet-themed" stock photos, showing that not only is Planet Stock Photo missing customer feedback, but it's so unknown that searches quickly move away from anything to do with the website. While this doesn't automatically mean the site is bad, it can raise some questions about site quality and safety regarding paying for stock photos.

Don't waste your time

The bottom line: it's not worth it to even visit the Planet Stock Photo site. While you can pay only for the photos you like, the prices are extremely expensive. Plus, nobody online seems to have heard of Planet Stock Photo, which is a major red flag. With only a handful of results on some popular categories, this stock photo repository just isn't a good use of your time. Pretty much every option out there is doing (even a little) better than Planet Stock Photo. For these reasons, Planet Stock Photo has earned one of the lowest scores in our review. They can do better, and so can you.

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Continued from above...

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.
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