When it comes to design, high-quality, professional stock photos are key. Though when most people think of stock photos, they picture cheesy imagery or awkward exaggerated images of people laughing or shouting. Despite this, there are plenty of stock photo sites, all boasting a wealth of professional and affordable content if you know where to look.
Luckily, this article stepped up to the challenge and reviewed some of the best stock photo sites the market has to offer. Continue reading to find out more!
How The Best Stock Photo Sites Were Evaluated
Prices - Stock photo sites should offer a range of plans and prices depending on quality, size, and use. That’s why all of the top picks below have multiple subscriptions available, allowing members to sign up at the price point that suits them.
Website - Is the site easy to navigate? Can members browse through the database with ease? Is the platform attractive to buyers? Questions such as these and more were taken on board when ranking the best stock photo sites.
Requirements - The best sites will enforce strict guidelines to ensure their database consists of only top-quality photos. Over-edited, out of focus, or simply dull photos should get rejected. As such, this article made sure to verify that low-quality amateur content wouldn’t qualify on any of the platforms below.
1. Shutterstock - Best Stock Photo Site Overall
Most photographers consider Shutterstock to be one of the top three photography sites today. Responsible for introducing the innovative photo subscription model that has expanded across many industries, Shutterstock is famous for having a large library of stock photography on the web.
5 photos: $49
25 photos: $229
Monthly subscription (10, 50, 350, or 750 downloads/month): $29 to $249
Customers can choose either to sign up for a monthly subscription or purchase royalty-free images via image packs. Moreover, despite strict technical restrictions on submissions, Shutterstock still boasts a seemingly endless variety of high-quality content.
The site has over 190 million files and is still counting. There’s a handy search feature that allows members to browse through the millions of images available and choose the right one for their blog posts, ads, and social media.
2. Alamy - Most Support for Buyers
Alamy is another great platform to purchase stock photographs. This site has over 140 million images, videos, and vectors, making it one of the largest stock photography websites. Over 60,000 photographers from around the world develop content for this platform, uploading roughly 100,000 new images every day.
Rights managed photos: $19,99 to $199,99
Royalty-free images: $49 to $365 (according to size)
Photographs should be shot on a mirrorless or DSLR camera that has at least six megapixels. Alamy does not hesitate to reject images because of bad exposure, over editing, sharpness, and camera artifacts. Though this may make creating content a little more challenging for amateur photographers, it ensures buyers that they have access to high-quality imagery.
Alamy not only offers an extensive collection of stock images but also boasts various tools designed to support buyers. The platform focuses on teaching users more about stock photography via a useful and informative stock photo glossary and online tutorials.
3. iStock - First Microstock Agency
iStock was previously known as iStockphoto and was the pioneer company that started selling stock photographs online. The company sold photos under a royalty-free license, making it the first microstock agency to use a micropayment method. Many stock photography sites have accepted this method of selling photos.
Per photo: $8 and $33
Monthly subscription (10, 25, 50, or 750 downloads/month): $29 to $166
With eighteen years in this industry plus being backed-up by Getty Images, iStock sells photography on-demand with subscription and credit packs. iStock has become famous because of its highly curated library, which hosts millions of photographs in two main collections.
As a buyer, members can use the iStock site to search and browse through a large selection of videos, photos, illustrations, vectors, and even audio files. Plus, content standards are just as strict on this platform as any top stock photo site, ensuring that should buyers purchase a subscription, they will have access to top-quality content.
4. Getty Images - Best for Innovative Stock Photos
Getty Images is a prestigious stock photography site, well known by many in the industry. The site started as a conventional company before the internet era, and over the years, adapted into an online platform.
The agency is famous thanks to its extensive catalog of photos to choose from and classy design. They boast first-class images for commercial purposes and exclusive images that have been captured from all over the world, plus a vast collection of editorial content.
Getty Images' requirements are stricter as compared to other photography agencies, and their photos come at a much higher price point than most other popular photo agencies. That said, buyers will have access to content created by a network of international photographers, including access to exclusive high-profile events.
5. Deposit Photos - Best for Video Content
This agency has been in the market for the last ten years and was founded by Dmitry Sergeev. The company has grown tremendously since its inception and continues to expand its photo collection rapidly. Even though the company is based in Florida, it has offices in many parts of the world and offers customer support in over twenty different languages.
Deposit Photos has over one hundred million royalty-free and high-quality images. The photos are divided into different categories: illustrations, backgrounds, photos, vector art, news images, and editorial images. The site also boasts HD video content and offers reasonably priced plans and great bonuses.
The Bottom Line: What Makes a Stock Photography Site Great?
The best stock photo sites will have strict quality guidelines that filter out poor-quality or unprofessional content, especially images that have been shot on a smartphone. This ensures subscribers have access to high-resolution, top-quality images, videos, illustrations, vectors, and more.
Many sites also offer affordable monthly subscriptions and different licensing or pricing tiers, guaranteeing designers, bloggers, marketers, and so on can join at a price point that suits them. Consider the top picks above and the type of content you’re interested in buying before choosing which photo stock site to sign up for.
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