Stock photo sites are a godsend whether you are starting your own business or need a single image to spice up a document. You don’t have to worry about setting up your own photoshoot! Even if it’s a simple subject, stock image websites save you a ton of time.
Demand for stock photos and the number of sites keeps growing. We now have access to stock photo sites boasting over a million images each! So, we look at the best stock photo sites. And I’ll guide you through the best paid and free stock image sites available.
6 Best Paid Stock Photo Sites
Here are the top six paid stock photo sites we recommend. Most stock photo sites now integrate artificial intelligence (AI). This could be with AI-generated images or processes. So, make sure you’re paying attention to the types of assets you’re downloading, whether you want AI photos or not.
Shutterstock is a mammoth stock image site. It’s the most extensive stock photo site, with over one billion images to search through. This is because they were one of the first stock photo sites around.
Their catalog relies on contributions from over one million different stock photographers. With this in mind, you can find an image to suit your needs. But because there is so much content, you may spend a while looking for your perfect picture.
It seems like Shutterstock has taken the “quantity-over-quality” approach. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t good images, though. They also provide video, music, templates, and even 3D models. And they offer a simple-to-use photo editing tool.
You can get access to their site through a subscription or on-demand package. Monthly subscriptions start at $29 for three images and go up to $499 for 750, depending on how many you want.
Their yearly subscriptions offer better deals, starting at $29 per month (10 images) and up to $199 per month (750 images). There are also savings available if you pay upfront for the whole year.
Their on-demand packages begin at $29 for two images and go up to $575 for 250 images. Take advantage of Shutterstock’s free trial and enjoy 10 free image downloads. You can check Shutterstock’s pricing and save 15% with our code EXPERTPHOTO.
Depositphotos is one of the best stock photo sites I have come across. The breadth of the database offers you a range of stock photo options. There’s everything from stylized shots to more playful and simple images. They also provide royalty-free videos, music, templates, and special effects.
I enjoy the way it lets you refine your search. So will people who know what kind of images they want. Depositphotos also has a refined search bar that lets you browse by camera angle!
After you choose your image, you select the size and quality you want. Under your photo, they give you similar photo options that may better suit your needs.
Depositphotos also has a bunch of tools you can take advantage of. They offer features that can remove a background or upscale your image. This is useful for people who aren’t highly skilled at editing.
Depositphotos offers both monthly and pay-on-demand options. The cost is about average among stock photo sites.
They have multiple monthly payment rates. Ten images per month will cost you $9.99, while 750 images will cost you $299. You get extra savings if you go with the yearly plans and even more if you pay upfront!
Each photo above your allotted amount costs $1 each on all plans. And their on-demand options start at $29 for five images and go up to $219 for 125.
Jumpstory boasts an 80% better performance than other stock photo websites. I’m unsure if they measure this by the quality of results or its search-to-download success rate. But, I am not surprised by this claim as they provide high-quality images. Along with content, they offer on-site features to perfect your images.
You can use their images with confidence. Jumpstory assures they’re safer to use than ones from free platforms. This is because of the international licenses they use, as well as offering unique global insurance.
They also have a unique artificial intelligence (AI) that uses machine learning to get rid of sub-par images. They aim for real images that “directly connect(s) to the customer’s message.” This is a great feature that makes sense in a stock image site.
Compatibility with other sites is another unique feature. They have integrated access to many website builders you may use, like Wix and WordPress. This integrated access might be why you want to pay for a service like Jumpstory.
Their “assistant” feature is also great. If you’re too busy to find images, fill out the form, and they will have someone search for you!
Price-wise, they are among the best. For a single month, plan to spend $39. If you subscribe for the entire year, the monthly cost drops to $19. These prices are for unlimited downloads per month! In comparison to other paid sites, this looks like the cheapest option.
For our readers, Jumpstory offers the coupon code EXPO25 for a 25% discount. You can use this Jumpstory coupon code on any plan you buy.
iStock is the sister brand of the giant Getty Images database. This database was created in 1999, making it the first stock photo website! With stock image databases, the longer they exist, the more content they offer. This means they have a wide range of images to fit the bill.
They offer royalty-free photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos. They even have a video editor you can use. This is helpful for someone who wants to make simple video edits but doesn’t have the software or time to do so.
iStock offers three types of subscriptions—basic, premium, and premium + video. The monthly rate starts at $29 and goes up to $333, depending on what and how much content you want to download.
They also offer pay-as-you-go credit packs. You can buy three credits for $12 and up to 300 for $2400. And there are other offers in between, with bigger savings if you buy more.
One credit goes toward one high-quality, budget image. Three credits buy you unique, signature iStock images. Videos need more—6 and 18 credits, respectively.
Check out their pricing page to see which package is best for you. Their prices can be hefty, but you’re guaranteed high-quality content because they are partners with Getty.
5. Adobe Stock
Of course, it makes sense for this imaging software giant to create its own database. And who wouldn’t want stock photo integration with every Adobe product? This is particularly useful for designing brochures or websites with Adobe software.
The site offers images, vectors, videos, audio, set templates, and 3D options. Searching is easy thanks to its refined advanced search feature. It even has the option to search images by their depth of field!
I am a fan of the user interface. It’s easy to navigate and displays the stock photos with no distractions. Adobe offers 10 free stock images and a 30-day trial. But beyond that, you need to pay for their services.
Their monthly subscriptions include “standard assets.” This includes standard images, templates, 3D, and music tracks. Subscriptions start at $29.99 (annual, monthly paid) for 10 standard monthly assets and 500 generative AI credits.
There are other plans for 25, 40, or 750 assets (or 3, 6, or 25 HD videos) a month. For 750 standard assets, shell out $199.99 monthly on a yearly commitment (otherwise, $249.99 monthly). Beyond the first tier, you get savings if you opt for yearly rather than monthly payments.
If you want premium content or video, Adobe Stock offers “credit packs” that start at $49.95 for 5 images. Other tiers go up to 150 standard images for $299. These prices are about average when looking at the top end of the best stock photo sites.
EyeEm is a high-end photo stock site, and its sleek design reflects this. It has a wide selection of high-quality images available on its site. They have a well-curated selection of photos. The extra price may be worth it if you’re looking for extremely well-taken stock images.
For on-demand buying, they offer two pricy photo packs. The first is 5 photos for $420. The second is 10 photos for $790. This is their discounted “essential” tier. Their premium tier is even more!
Their monthly and yearly subscription prices are a bit trickier to work out. Their cheapest monthly subscription of 150 photos costs $9 per photo (essential tier). That means the cheapest subscription is $1350 per month, making EyeEm the most expensive on this list.
With this service, you also get a chance to book a custom photoshoot. It is an excellent high-end option for more prominent companies who want their own images. They even have an “enterprise” option to discuss your brand and a customized budget.
This stock site is costly, but that is looking from an individual point of view. Their images are possibly the highest quality of all the sites listed here. So, if your company has the money, I recommend EyeEm.
6 Best Free Stock Photo Sites
These six sites offer an impressive array of free stock images to fuel your visual endeavors.
Unsplash is a free stock photo site you can’t avoid. It’s quick and easy to select and download the images you want. This is ideal for people who work with images where sourcing them is not a worry.
For a free stock photo site, the quality of the images is excellent. This is why they earn their spot as one of the best free stock photo sites. Of course, they don’t have the range that the paid services do. But over five million high-resolution images for free isn’t bad at all.
From its humble beginnings as a Tumblr blog, Unsplash has grown tremendously. The UN and other global organizations now use them. The only thing I have trouble with is their search engine. It is not as refined as others. You have to adjust your search occasionally.
You also get premium options on each search. This is done with independent photographers and Getty Images (iStock).
Pexels is another one of the best free stock photo sites. Their search engine makes finding the perfect image a breeze. The search bar auto-fills suggestions as you type the same way Google does. In this same section, you can access your recent searches. They also suggest collections of images related to the search terms you use.
Pexels is one of the databases with an excellent curation of free stock photos. You won’t have to scroll through junk to find classy images. Also, Pexels is one of the only free services that give you access to free videos!
A nice feature is that they display the licensing terms. This clarity can be helpful for people who don’t know the details about copyright. You can see what you can use the images for and in what ways.
Pixabay offers the broadest range of materials for free. This includes free stock photos, illustrations, vectors, video, music, and sound effects. I hadn’t heard of them before researching for this article. But after seeing their stock, I will use them in the future. Their database is vast, with over 4.2 million assets to choose from.
A nice feature that makes them unique is that some images display their metadata. If you’re using stock image websites, you probably don’t care too much about the photo’s information. But it adds a nice touch to some of the images, almost giving you the feel of more authority over them.
Like Unsplash, Pixabay links to premium site photos from iStock. But after browsing their catalog, I doubt you will even need to pay for this service.
Shopify powers burst. Shopify is an online platform that lets people set up stores and sell their products. Unsurprisingly, they have dipped their toes into the world of royalty-free stock photos.
I am a fan of their straightforward design. It takes nothing away from the images they present. The only downside is they do not have a dedicated advanced search feature.
I also think that their free stock photos aren’t as refined as others. But, it is different. The free stock photos here are not on any other stock image sites.
Another great feature is their “search by business ideas.” This is great for people starting a new business or Shopify account. Type in your business idea, and this feature suggests collections of related images. This can be helpful if you aren’t great at using the search bar to find specific photos.
StockSnap is an average stock image site. They have a great database, but some images look like they were taken on a point-and-shoot camera. This is fine and might even be the perfect image for some people. But for finding high-quality stock photos, it doesn’t compare to other sites.
A helpful search feature is viewing “trending” material. This is useful as you can see what kind of images or colors are popular at the moment. Plus, you can scroll to the bottom and find free stock photos that rarely circulate.
StockSnap’s premium service links with Shutterstock. I’m not fond of how they mix their premium images with their basic selection. The only indicator you get is a small star in the top left of each premium image. But this is a minor issue and doesn’t detract from the browsing experience.
Gratisography is a different kind of stock photo site. They advertise themselves as having the world’s “quirkiest” collection of free stock photos. It’s curated, so there aren’t as many images as the other stock photo sites on this list. Some of my searches didn’t even come up with any results.
Gratisography claims that “stock image sites love too much stock and not enough image.” This is an interesting point. But, when you look at their free stock photos, it isn’t the best-curated selection.
You get a refined search, but I wouldn’t call the images “quirky.” Instead, they come across as a bit amateurish. And the interface is littered with links to Shutterstock.
They also have an easy interface where searching and downloading are painless. I use this website to search for images that aren’t anywhere else or if I find results on other sites too vanilla. Either way, this is an excellent site to get unexpected results.
Conclusion: Best Stock Photo Sites
Stock photo sites have been around for a while. There is a whole range of services to choose from. Searching for a particular image in these vast databases can be overwhelming. But it all comes down to importance.
If you’re using the image for a website or brochure, be conscious the image you choose represents your business or brand. Spend time picking the right image that conveys your message best.
Most of the time, free stock image sites are enough to find what you need. But if you use stock images daily, it’s worth paying for the services. Realistically, you’re paying for time saved along with the high-quality images.
That’s our list of the best stock photo sites. One of these stock image sites on our list will meet your needs. Get browsing! And be sure to bookmark this page in case your preferred site doesn’t have the content you need.