Today, stock photos have become an important marketing tool for businesses worldwide. Trying to hunt for a perfect picture that represents your brand and speaks for itself is a tedious task. Especially when conventional stock agencies charge almost a fortune for a single image sometimes. So how do you know which image is best for your brand and which site is reliable enough to provide you the same? No worries, as we bring the top 20 stock image websites for you to select the best image for your content.
But before starting with the list, here are a few basic tips for finding images that won’t ruin your marketing efforts or site design:
- Choose a picture that describes the content, articulates the message, and evokes the right emotion—not just something that’s “pretty to the eyes.”
- Use well-lit and high-quality images shot with sensible lighting in mind.
- Use relevant, up-to-date imagery that speaks with and FOR your brand. Your brand credibility mustn’t be at stake due to an unfit image.
- You can edit images in Canva or Photoshop. Go check out our 15 Best Illustration Tools in 2021 (free and paid) for choosing the right illustration tool to edit those photos.
- Unsure regarding whether or not a stock image you selected has been overused to death? There are plenty of tools offered online that allow you to check the copyright information of a photo, the number of times it has been reused, and where. One such tool is Tineye. Checking for such details might help you get an idea of how the people around you are using the photo and how you portray it.
Now that we know how to select an apt stock image, let’s look at the various websites available to do so.
Shutterstock is a leading provider of high-quality licensed photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music to businesses, marketing agencies, and media organizations around the world. Shutterstock is one such platform that will definitely spoil you for choices as it adds hundreds of thousands of creative assets each week, and currently has more than 330 million images, 50 million editorial images, and 18 million video clips available which grow as you read now. The website is a direct fit for entrepreneurs who aren’t proficient with photo editing, as it is equipped with a built-in photo editing tool perfect for editing and resizing photos without much hassle. This is what makes Shutterstock a leading giant in the premium stock image industry. You can go through these most popular photos on Shutterstock and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
- Free 1-month trial
- Subscription packs start at US$ 29/month for 10 images, US$ 99/month for 50 images, US$ 169/month for 350 images, and US$ 199/month for 750 images.
- On-demand packs available for 5 images under a standard license of US$ 49/month and enhances license of US$ 449/month and standard and enhanced license for 25 images costs US$ 229/month and US$ 1699/month.
StockPhotoSecrets Shop is hands down a budget-friendly agency. The StockPhotoSecrets Shop is a small stock site especially aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. Developed by a team of experts at Stock Photo Now, the Shop offers over 5 million royalty-free images under flexible plans and packs tailored to fit into any budget. For us, this is one of the best stock photo websites perfect for blog posts or social media.
- Monthly plans are available starting at 35$/month (25 downloads/month), 55$/month (50 downloads/month) and 105$/month (500 downloads/month).
- Yearly plans are available starting at 99$/year (200 downloads/year), 389$/year (50 downloads /month) and 999$/year (500 downloads/month).
Alamy is another amazing platform for purchasing stock images. This site has over 140 million images, videos, and vectors, adding it to the list of the largest stock photography websites. Alamy not only provides an extensive library of ready-to-use stock images but also focuses on teaching users about stock photography. Many photographers work for the site worldwide, uploading roughly 100,000 new images every day. It is an absolutely trustworthy site as it does not hesitate to reject poor images. This ensures buyers that they have access to high-quality imagery. Now isn’t that what we want?
PRICING: The price of the image is decided based on the type of license being purchased and where the image is being used. Alamy provides custom, Royalty-free, and popular image licenses.
You can get more pricing details here
The iStock website is stocked with a large selection of videos, photos, illustrations, vectors, and even audio files. The platform also has very strict content standards, ensuring that buyers receive the top-quality content they pay for. It is also the first Microstock Agency as it sold stock photos online under a royalty-free license, using a micro payment method. The site allows its users to select the best images by browsing categorically from its highly curated library of hundreds of millions of photographs.
PRICING: Click here to view price details
You would have definitely seen images by this site on the internet. After all, it’s just one google search away. Getty Images is one of the most popular stock photo sites in today’s era. This site has highly strict requirements as compared to other photography agencies, as expected from one of the biggest stock photo sites. Plus, their photos come with a much heavy price tag as buyers have access to content created by a network of international photographers, including access to exclusive high-profile events. But rest assured, this website is worth every penny.
PRICING: Click here to view pricing details
Adobe Stock provides millions of royalty-free images that can be accessed for a relatively cheap price. Adobe in itself is a very popular brand for designers and trust us, it doesn’t disappoint here as well.
The website has incorporated a ‘collections’ system, which is an added advantage for e-commerce entrepreneurs. The available collections are core, infinite, and instant. The core and infinite collections include images specifically tailored for desktop use, whereas their instant collection features loads of high-quality images for the taste of mobile users.
PRICING: You can see the various high-quality free stock photos here
The rest of the price details are available here
A premium stock photo site with a petite collection of authentic photos specially curated for your unique taste. They’ve got an amazing collection of niche-like conceptual photographs relevant to the modern-day world along with affordable prices and flexible licensing terms. If rare, artsy, and modern is your vibe, then you’ve arrived at the right place, my friend. Photocase has an on-demand collection of high-end stock photography, tightly curated just for you.
PRICING: The pricing plans are available here
Yet another premium stock image website gets added to the list. EyeEm is an awesome platform for buying and selling the rights to images hassle-free. It’s also one of the best sites to sell photos and earn money, just that those photos have to pass the EyeEm standard. EyeEm uses modern tools including artificial intelligence for finding the right images to license to brands, agencies, or individuals. Its image recognition technology tags and ranks images based on an aesthetic score assigned to each and every photo. Hence the company boasts a wide user base spread all across the globe.
PRICING: Click here to view price plans
Deposit Photos is a royalty-free content marketplace with an extensive library of over 200 million files. The company has grown tremendously since it was first established and continues to walk on that growth spectrum by expanding its photo collection rapidly.
The photo library is split into different categories: illustrations, backgrounds, photos, vector art, news images, and editorial images that are sold under a royalty-free license that falls under two main categories- standard and extended. The site also boasts highly curated HD video content along with reasonably priced plans and amazing bonuses to go.
PRICING: The images are available on a subscription or on-demand basis. View the plans here
Canva is a popular, free image editing tool for non-designers whereas its premium version caters to businesses over the world. The platform hosts 75+ million premium images, video graphics, and audio, at no extra charge. It offers an unrestricted download cap with amazing user-friendly features like Brand Kit that seamlessly creates branded visuals for various purposes. Whether you’re a student, trying your hand at designing for the first time, or a team of designers, Canva Pro has everything you need to boost your productivity to the next level. Canva also has a 100% free premium version called ‘Canva for Education’ tailored specially for eligible K12 teachers and their students. It is integrated with all classroom tools like Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and more for that first-hand classroom feel. This is one tool you should not miss.
PRICING: View Pro plans here
Shopify Burst is one of the best free stock image sites that is primarily devoted to entrepreneurs, designers, and bloggers. The website is easy to use with a sleek design, hosting a wideset of royalty-free images with no attribution whatsoever. The best feature of Burst is their ‘Business Ideas’ section which holds a unique collection of trending business ideas with an in-depth case study of each. The case studies are updated on a regular basis and include supplier info, marketing tips, business model insights, and free high-resolution images for your store and marketing campaigns. This website provides you with high-resolution images and plenty of starter ideas as well.
Pixabay is a platform for sharing images, illustrations, vector graphics, and more, exclusively under the custom Pixabay license, which generally allows free use of material with some restrictions. The website has a repository of over 2.3 million+ high-quality stock photos, videos, and music. The main search bar gives the liberty of filtering images by factors like media type, orientation, color, and minimum dimensions. Images are under Creative Commons Zero license, free to use in both personal and commercial projects but they’re still subjected to restrictions. But the availability of an experienced reviewer tasked specifically with reviewing submissions for quality and legality makes Pixabay a unique and secure photo site.
We always like free things, especially if they’re too good to be free. One such ‘too good to be true’ website is Unsplash. It is a one-stop for all your chic, high-quality photo requirements. The most helpful feature of Unsplash is that it offers a wide range of high-resolution images entirely for free which can also be assorted into mood boards or collections. Plus, the images are downloadable into various sizes, resolutions, and formats based on your need.
This website is full of high-quality, amazingly colorful collections of images available free of cost. Pexels images are all under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, enabling use in commercial projects without any attribution requirements. The website also hosts challenges, inviting millions of photographers worldwide to participate and submit their own photos and videos and get a chance to win amazing cash prizes.
As the website clearly states, “Negative Space is about creating communities: A community of photographers who want to share their work. And a community of online visitors who want to use their beautiful, free high-resolution images without any restrictions.” You can check out their diverse categories like Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Business, and many more. They also have a collection of tools for web developers and tutorials for you to gain some extra knowledge in the field of web designing. They’ve got a rising team of passionate individuals trying to provide the best of free services to people all across the globe.
Death to stock
In the words of the makers, “Death to Stock is an Artist Owned Co-op that provides you with the freshest authentic stock photos and videos; with unlimited downloads and new work added every month”. All of their media comes with a “make what you want” license, which gives you full freedom to do anything with the files after you purchase a subscription. The site also provides scholarships and discounts for non-profit organizations, educators, and artists in need. Plus, you can just sign up and get free photo samples occasionally. YAY !!
PRICING: The prices start at 12$/month (billed annually) for small businesses and start-ups whereas designers and agencies have an ideal plan starting at 33$/month billed annually.
As the name suggests, StockUnlimited provides its subscribers with unlimited downloads of stock images, stock graphics, icons, buttons, backgrounds, and a lot more on a subscription basis. This website truly provides you with unlimited download access to upgraded content without any long-term contract or complicated license terms. No hassle, just inspiration, and creativity!
PRICING: StockUnlimited provides various subscription and download packs. You can view them here
This is the best place to find images with an Asian touch. DragonImages is a cutting-edge production studio based in Vietnam that provides regionally-based high-quality, professional photos representing Asian people and their culture. Their images are available at different outlets including the top stock images sites. The prices for each photo may vary according to the agency.
Another website that provides an ever-expanding collection of high-quality images under a CCO license with no attribution at all. They’ve got quite a large collection of free stock photos that you can browse through using their ‘tag-based category system’. If you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur with a robust eye for design, then StockSnap.io should be your go-to website for free-of-charge stock images.
The site aims to offer unique, quirky, whimsy, and more appealing images, as opposed to the “stocky look” of the norm at zero cost. They have limited stock and the modest collection has around 450-500 high-quality photos, all signed by Ryan-the founder himself.
They have a CC0 licensing model with a few restrictions similar to Royalty-Free (but NOT Royalty Free). One thing to note is that the site explicitly states that their images might be subject to privacy and property rights, and even though the images are available for commercial use, they highly recommend “due diligence” prior to usage. In short, do some research about the legal status of the photos before using them commercially. But overall, it is a great pick for some quirky, out-of-the-box whimsical content.
Many stock photo websites have created amazingly unique software for seamless browsing of images using keyword combinations, color, shapes, moods, etc. A few of those are included in this list as well. All the websites listed above are the best in the market today based on user reviews and requirements. Hoping those websites will make your work more easy and colorful.