The term “stock image” comes with a bit of a negative connotation. People tend to picture first and foremost the smiling faces typical of cereal ads and dentist brochures. In reality, however, stock images are so much more. They’re gorgeous landscapes, high-res close-ups, quirky illustrations, and nearly anything else your creative mind can dream up. And with the right placement, stock images can add a unique touch to your company’s website, marketing tools, and social media pages. Here are the top 10 websites for royalty-free stock images.
Using Photoshop, Lightroom, or InDesign to work on your project? Adobe doesn’t leave you to scramble for the perfect image on your own. Adobe Stock offers high-quality images and videos for a reasonable price. You don’t have to own Adobe software to use their images, but if you do, images can be purchased and acquired through the program you use.
Price: $10 per image; $30/month for 10 images
Built by Getty Images, iStock boasts millions of brilliant stock images. Their categories, ranging from “willpower” and “vintage” to “emoji” and “infographics,” make it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. With iStock, you buy images using credits, which cost $8-11 each depending on how many you purchase.
Price: About 1-3 credits per image
Pond5 is a wonderful resources for those in need of subtler images and textures. What once was just a video footage website is now a place where businesses and artists can find photos to match their projects. Pond5 even offers low-resolution, watermarked preview versions of each image to download and try out before committing.
Price: $2.50-80 per image
Every day Shutterstock adds about 10,000 images to its collection of over 80 million. This doesn’t mean, though, that you’ll have an impossible time finding the right image—in fact, Shutterstock’s search feature is highly intuitive. The site also offers Shutterstock Editor, a photo editing service in beta testing that customers can use for free.
Price: $29 for 2 images; $49 for 5 images; $199/month for 350 images; $249/month for 750 images
Like iStock, Dreamstime requires that images are paid for using credits, which cost close to a dollar depending on how many you buy. Subscription packages are available for those who need to download a nearly excessive number of images. Too lazy to walk to your computer in search of the perfect image? The Dreamstime app can be downloaded onto any Android or iPhone so you can browse comfortably right where you are.
Price: $1-250 based on download level
The best way to describe Bigstock’s images? Fun! This site is full of vibrant seasonal images, cool patterns, and funny illustrations. Bigstock makes it easy to download the images you love with simple monthly plans. Their pictures are great for flyers, brochures, and other marketing supplies.
Price: $79 for 5 images per day or 50 images per month; $99 for 10 images per day
If Bigstock’s images are fun, 123rf’s are hipsteresque. Vintage cameras (like the one above), retro fashion, and old buildings frequently star in pictures on 123rf. Patterns and illustrations often take advantage of wrinkled textures and sepia tones. But don’t worry—the pictures on 123rf were taken with modern cameras, so their overall quality is still impeccable.
Price: $79/month for 5 images a day; $229/month for 780 images a day
Unlike many stock image websites, Fotolia allows free registration, so you can browse their full collection and receive email updates without commitment. Nonprofits and businesses who practice social entrepreneurship may enjoy their “social issues” image category. Fotolia offers a single credit-based package for those who want to make a one-time purchase.
Price: $14 for 10 credits; $25/month for 5 images; $249/month for 25 images a day
Can Stock Photo
The creators of Can Stock Photo believe stock images should be accessible to everyone. As a result, few photos surpass $50, but their images look a little like . . . well, stock photos.
Price: $7-50 based on size and license
PhotoDune is a sister site of VideoHive and AudioJungle, and they work virtually the same way. Photographers and illustrators upload their images to PhotoDune, then allow views and purchases to determine which images rise to the top of viewers’ search results. PhotoDune’s content is diverse, fresh, and relatively inexpensive.
Price: $1-10 per image for regular license; $8-80 per image for extended license