Stock photography is often used in print and web design and has been around since the 1920s, when it was utilized by the newspaper industry. It has turned out to be such a common element to use now when designing, and has become more and more available, so that designers start using it on a daily basis. In the beginning there were only a few minor resources when it came to utilizing a variety of photos, but now as the times change and technology advances, so does the amount of resources in stock photography. Here are a handful of sites to check out when considering the use of stock photography on your next project.
Free Stock Photography Sites
Free Range Stock
Just sign up for a free membership, log in and download high-quality, high-resolution free stock photos and textures. All images are at least 2400 x 1600 pixels and can be used for personal and commercial use.
Stock.XCHNG is one of the leading free stock photo sites on the Internet featuring over 400,000 quality images. Photos are available in five different sizes for print or web. Visitors can see the popularity of an image by viewing how many times the photo has been downloaded.
Every Stock Photo
Every Stock Photo is a search engine for free photos. These come from many sources and are license-specific. Membership is free and allows users to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.
Mayang’s Free Textures
Mayang’s Free Textures is a texture library with over 3,800 free to download, high-resolution textures. Featuring everything from brick walls, leaves, water, paint effects and so much more, these images come in handy for any designer.
Vintage Pixels is a large database of historical, high-quality, free-for-use images which allows people to share their archived photos. Visitors can download image for print, or use in graphic design, as well as upload images to add to the ever growing album of vintage images.
Photogen is a source for quality, high-resolution free stock images. Photos are available for commercial or personal projects. Users must register for a free account to download images.
Free Stock Photos
Download free images to use for professional or commercial use. Categories include Athens, Christian, Egypt, Israel, Rome, Scenery, Sky, Weather and many more.
ImageBase offers free high resolution photos. In addition to beautiful images, the site also offers free PowerPoint Templates.
Kave Wall presents free stock photos, image and textures. CD’s are available for download in various categories.
Visitors can browse and download 2,000 free stock images from 10 categories on TurboPhoto. Also available are high quality, professional stock images.
Free Stock Photography
Free Stock Photography offers a plethora of completely free Royalty-free stock photography. Browse over one hundred categories from animals to toy and games.
Freepixel offers free stock photography for any use. You can easily search for images as well as make full use of the tag cloud. Over 3,000 images are featured and some are usually found on paid registration sites.
Stock Vault features over 13,000 free stock photos from over 3,600 photographers. The site’s helpful tutorials, videos and articles can also be a powerful tool for any designer.
FreeFoto showcases a large collection of free photographs. A link back and attribution are required for some images. The site is made up of over 100 thousand images with over three thousand categories.
BigFoto has a large variety of free images from different cities and continents as well as unique sceneries. Choose Royalty-free photos of San Francisco, Egypt, Germany, Israel or Prague.
Geek Philosopher offers free stock photography. Visitors are encouraged to use the images for free but are required to post a link back to the Geek Philosopher. Browse several categories, such as food, nature, art, animals and texture.
Commercial Stock Photography Services
Corbis features unique and helpful options to search images. Users can filter by date photographed, photographer, orientation, number of people in photograph and more. Also featured are premium collections from famous photographers, such as the Andy Warhol Foundation and Ansel Adams. Most images range from $10 to $600.
Photocase is a community of photographers and their high-quality photos. Users can vote on images, leave comments, contact a specific photographer and see related images. Images are purchased with credits and are available for web or print. DownloadCredit Packages are 16 downloadcredits for $25, 40 downloadcredits for $50 or 80 downloadcredits for $90. Subscription plans available include 6 credits daily for $99 per month or 16 credits daily for $199 per month.
iStockphoto offers photos, vector illustrations, video footage, audio tracks and flash files. Visitors can sign up for their “pay-as-you-go” credit package from $18-$1,900 or save even more by purchasing a subscription for three months, six months or one year. Subscription prices vary depending on desired daily credit limit set but range from $979-$46,150. Corporate subscriptions are also available.
Fotolia features photos, vector images and videos and has over one million members. Users can purchase credits for a single download for $1 per credit. Subscriptions are also available, ranging from one month up to one year from $750-$21,600, depending on length and downloads per day.
Free Digital Photos
Thousands of images are available for corporate and personal use. Photos are free but the site requires a link back or there is an option to buy a high resolution version.
Big Stock Photo
At Big Stock Photo visitors can choose from over three million photos in categories such as fashion, summer, business, food, success, sports and more. Image prices range from one credit for a small image to six credits for an extra large image. Prices per credit vary from $1-$2.50 depending on amount purchased. Images are available in four different sizes for use in print and web.
Shutterstock offers over seven million royalty-free stock photos, illustrations and vector images, and more than one hundred thousand video clips. They offer a “25-a-day” subscription at $249 for 1 month, $709 for 3 months, $1,349 for 6 months or $2,559 for 1 year. You can also choose the “On Demand” subscription, for JPG & Vector files of all sizes, at $49 for 5 downloads or $229 for 25 downloads. If you prefer only the small and medium size options, you can get 1 year at $49 for 12 downloads or $229 for 60 downloads. The “Enhanced” subscription allows you to download images at any time within the year, including TIFF, JPG and Vector, at $199 for 2 downloads, $449 for 5 downloads, or $1,699 for 25 downloads. Footage subscription plans are also available.
Photos.com offers over two million Royalty-free images by subscription. Their collection contains more than 390,000 professional, model-released photos in various categories. The basic subscription allows you to pay once and download up to 750 images per month from $99-$449. They also offer a “Photos.com Plus” subscription giving you access to millions of files including images, illustrations, fonts, flash and audio files from $249-$1,699.
Stockxpert has over three million images with over forty thousand images added per week. Videos and photos are available in five different sizes. Subscriptions allow for up to 25 images downloaded per day at $219 for one month, $499 for three months or $1,299 for one year. Visitors can also pay per download; credits are $1 and available in many quantities.
Getty Images is a leader in providing digital media worldwide, creating and distributing a range of assets - from Royalty-free stock photography and editorial images to footage, music and multimedia. One unique part of Getty Images is it features creative images to up-to-the-minute editorial coverage - including news, sports, and celebrity photos. Prices range from $49 to several thousand dollars
Can Stock Photo
Can Stock Photo is a photography agency that offers professional stock photography. The site has over 1,492,000 images to choose from and three purchasing options. Choose from several subscription durations, weekly, monthly or yearly, and volumes, up to 10 images per day or 25 images per day, from $35-$1,199. Credits are available at 50 cents per credit. Images vary from 2 credits for a small image to 10 credits for a large vector. Photos can also be purchased without credits or subscriptions, but are not offered at a discount.
123RF sells Royalty-free images and vector images. If you do not find the perfect photo amongst their four million images, they offer 24-hour live support. 123RF offers the flexibility to choose between two modes of purchase; monthly subscriptions or credit purchase. The Basic Subscription Plan allows up to 5 images downloaded per day or the Premium Subscription Plan allows for 26 downloads per day. Both subscriptions are available for 30, 90 or 265 days. Prices range from $89-$1,799. Credits are $1 each and available in various quantities.
Vectorious has a wide variety of stock vectors. The site features over 8,000 vector illustrations and three types of subscriptions: $15 for one month, $40 for 3 months or $70 for six months. The daily limit is twenty images per day.
Stock photography, illustrations, typefaces and unique merchandise are all available on Veer. Images can be found in up to six sizes from $1 to $20, depending on the size of the images. Veer features images in hundreds of categories and also gives users the ability to easily create a lightbox.
At Jupiterimages Unlimited you will find millions of images from eight premium collections and four subscription services, alongside millions of value photos and illustrations. Jupiterimages Unlimited has a flexible subscription plan as well as Rights-Managed and Royalty-free images. Monthly subscriptions start at $599 to $1,499. Annual subscriptions range from $599-$3,399 depending amount of access to photos. Most plans are limited to 750 downloads per month.
Spffy is a great way to find free images. The site indexes some of the most prestigious stock photography agencies such as StockPhotoFinder, Corbis, Jupiter Images, Fotolia, NASA and Super Stock. For video and footage, Spffy searches YouTube, AOL Video, Live Video StockMotionFinder and others. Visitors have different ways to search: via a dedicated stock photos image resource search, web photos (flickr especially), or in the public domain. Prices many vary depending on source of image.
PuchStock has over two million Royalty-Free photos and illustrations from JupiterImages, Getty Images, Corbis and over 50 other brands. PunchStock also offers virtual CD’s, which you can download instantly, and traditional CD’s, which can be quickly shipped. As a bonus, the site usually features monthly specials or promotions.
VivoZoom showcases fabulous commercial images you can trust. It is the “only microstock site that guarantees its images are legally safe to use.” Pay-As-You-Go Plan allows members to choose the number of downloads from 5 to 50 downloads for $39 to $149. Subscriptions plans are also offered; monthly-$279, quarterly-$699 or annually-$2,499, limit 15 downloads per day.
FotoSearch is a provider of Royalty-free and Right-managed stock photography, illustrations, maps, videos and audio. Their subscription package allows up to 25 images downloaded per day for $249 a month. CD’s and DVD’s are also available and grouped by category.
Dreamstime features over six million images from over 70 thousand photographers. Users can purchase credit packages; 5 credits-$7, 12 credits-$15, 25 credits-$25, 52 credits-$50, 108 credits-$100. Subscriptions are also available for 1 month, 3, months, 6 months or 12 months. Prices range from $98-$3,739. The site also features free stock photos, illustrations, vector and raw images as well as a blog for people to interact, make friends and share tips and techniques.
PhotoSpin presents two subscription levels to fit your design needs. Both offer high resolution photos, up to 3600 pixels for $299 per year or 5100 pixels for $499 per year. Photos, illustrations, fonts, audio and video are all available for download.
Inmagine is one of the leading supplier and distributor of Royalty-free digital stock photography. With more than 3.5 million Royalty-free stock images, they hold one of the most competitive lists of publishers in the market today. Sales support is available 24 hours a day, Monday though Friday, to help with any questions or a research consultation. Prices range from $29-$870 on average.
Unprofound is a unusual or unorthodox stock photography site. This is because images are categorized by color. Images are completely free to use.
Matton Images is a complete Royalty-free resource. Images and illustrations are listed by category and theme. Subscriptions are available for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from $360-$1,189.
|Site||File Types||# of Images||Purchasing|
|iStockphoto||JPG, Vector, Video, Audio, Flash||5,197,000||3 plans available: Pay-As-You-Go: Purchase credits as needed from $18-$1,900. Subscription: Available for 3 months, 6 months and 1 year from $979-$46,150. Can set your own daily credit limit. Corporate Account: Can purchase Corporate Pay-As-You-Go account or Corporate Subscription account.|
|Fotolia||JPG, Vector, Video||6,258,000||Single Download: $1=1 credit. Minimum purchase is 10 credits. Subscriptions: Can choose standard subscription to download large JPG images only or premium subscription to download images, vectors and videos.|
|Free Digital Photos||JPG||N/A||Every image is free with an option to purchase high resolution photos for print or graphic design. Large images for Web are $5, high resolution for print is $10.|
|Big Stock Photo||JPG||3,508,000||Images are purchased with credits. Prices range from 1 credit for small images to 6 credits for an extra large image. Prices per credit vary from $1-$2.50 depending on amount purchased.|
|Every Stock Photo||JPG||4,459,000||Images are free.|
|Shutterstock||JPG, Vector, Video||7,593,000||3 subscription plans available. 25-A-Day Subscription: Download up to 25 images/day including JPG & Vector images. 1 month-$249, 3 months-$709, 6 months-$1,349 or 1 year-$2,559. On Demand Subscription: 5 downloads for all JPG & Vector sizes for $49 or 25 downloads for all JPG & Vector sizes for $229. 12 downloads for small and medium size images for up to one year is $49. 60 downloads for small and medium sizes for up to one year is $229. Enhanced Subscription: Download images any time for up to one year, including all TIFF, JPG and Vector sizes. 2 downloads-$199, 5 downloads-$449 or 25 downloads-$1699. Footage subscription plans also available.|
|Mayang’s Free Textures||JPG||3,800||Images are free.|
|Vintage Pixels||JPG||N/A||Images are free.|
|Photos.com||JPG, Vector, Audio, Flash, Typography||2,000,000||Photos.com Original Subscription: Gives access to over 390,000 photos. 1 month-$99.95, 3 months-$199.95 or 1 year-$449.95. Photos.com Plus Subscription: Gives access to millions of images, flash files, fonts and audio files. 1 month-$249.95, 3 months-$599.95 or 1 year-$1,199.95. Can also purchase single images without a subscription.|
|Photogen||JPG||1,300||Images are free.|
|Free Range Stock||JPG||10,000||Images are free.|
|Stockxpert||JPG, Vector, Video||3,500,000||Pay Per Download: Credits are approx. $1 and available in in many quantities. Subscription: Choose between plans for 1 month-$219.95, 3 months-$499.95 and 1 year-1,299.95, and download up to 25 images per day. Extended licenses are also available as well as video subscriptions.|
|Free Stock Photos||JPG||N/A||Images are free.|
|Getty Images||JPG, Video, Music||21,000,000||Prices range from $49 to several thousand dollars.|
|ImageBase||JPG, PPT Templates||1,800||Images are free.|
|Can Stock Photo||JPG, Video||1,492,000||Choose from several subscription durations, weekly, monthly or yearly, and volumes, up to 10 images per day or 25 images per day, from $35-$1,199. Credits are available at 50 cents per credit. Images vary from 2 credits for a small image to 10 credits for a large vector. Photos can also be purchased without credits or subscriptions, but are not offered at a discount.|
|Kave Wall||JPG||1,700||Images are free. Can also purchase a CD of high resolution images by category for $19.95.|
|123RF||JPG, Vector||4,000,000||Credits: 1 credit is $1 and can buy in various quantities. Subscriptions: The Basic Subscription Plan allows up to 5 images downloaded per day or the Premium Subscription Plan allows for 26 downloads per day. Both subscriptions available for 30, 90 or 265 days. Prices range from $89-$1,799.|
|Stock.XCHNG||JPG||400,000||Images are free.|
|Vectorious||JPG||8,000||Available subscriptions include $15 for one month, $40 for 3 months or $70 for six months. The daily limit is twenty images per day.|
|Veer||JPG, Vector, Typography||1,309,600||Prices are as follows: XS-$1, S-$3, M-$5, L-$10, XL-$15, XXL-$20. Also featured on the site are images from other sites so prices may vary depending on the provider.|
|Turbo Photo||JPG||2,000||Images are free.|
|Jupiterimages Unlimited||JPG, Vector||N/A||Monthly subscriptions start at $599 to $1,499. Annual subscriptions range from $599-$3,399 depending amount of access to photos. Most plans are limited to 750 downloads per month.|
|Spffy||JPG, Vector, Video||1,000,000,000||Prices vary depending on source of image.|
|Free Stock Photography||JPG||N/A||Images are free.|
|VivoZoom||JPG||N/A||Pay-As-You-Go Plan: 5 downloads for $39 or 25 downloads for $149 for all resolutions or 12 downloads for $49 and 50 downloads for $149 for web resolutions only. Subscriptions plans are also offered; monthly-$279, quarterly-$699 or annually-$2,499, limit 15 downloads per day.|
|FotoSearch||JPG, Vector, Video||5,300,000||N/A|
|Corbis||JPG, Vector||N/A||Most images range from $10-$600.|
|Freepixels||JPG||3,700||Images are free.|
|Dreamstime||JPG, Vector||6,162,000||Credit packages are available; 5 credits-$6.99, 12 credits-$14.99, 25 credits-$24.99, 52 credits-$49.99, 108 credits-$99.99. Subscriptions are also available for 1 month, 3, months, 6 months or 12 months. Prices range from $98.89-$3,739.99.|
|Stock Vault||JPG||13,800||Images are free.|
|PhotoSpin||JPG, Vector, Video, Audio, Typography||150,000||The Plus 1-Year subscription allows for unlimited downloads for all 12 inch files for $299 and the Super Plus 1-Year subscription allows for unlimited downloads for all 17 inch files for $499.|
|Unprofound||JPG||1,300||Images are free.|
|Inmagine||JPG||3,500,000||Prices range from $29-$870 on average.|
|FreeFoto||JPG||127,000||Images are free. A link back to the site is required.|
|BigFoto||JPG||N/A||Images are free.|
|Photocase||JPG||N/A||Download Credit Packages: 16 downloadcredits-$25, 40 downloadcredits-$50 or 80 downloadcredits-$90. Subscription plans available include 6 credits daily for $99 per month or 16 credits daily for $199 per month.|
|Geek Philosopher||JPG||N/A||Images are free.|
|Matton Images||JPG, Video, Audio, Music, Maps, Typography, Clipart||1,500,000||Subscriptions are available for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from $360-$1,189.|
Photography is often quickly bought and sold in several different ways with various licensing agreements. It is important to understand the copyright on the image you are using or purchasing as to not violate the law. More often than not, simply finding an image off the internet, whether through a search engine or a website, and using it is in violation of its intended use and can result in a lawsuit and severe penalties. Some of the most common licenses used are Rights Managed or Royalty-free. The value of a Rights Managed image, or sometimes called “licensed images” or “RM”, is determined by the use of the image. This includes the intended use of the image, duration it will be displayed, country it will be used in, size and exclusivity. Royalty-free stock photography, commonly referred to “RF”, offers a photo buyer the ability to use an image in an unlimited number of ways for a single license fee.
About the author
Jourdan Wilkerson is the Marketing Coordinator at lifeBLUE Media, a top-level Web agency that specializes incustom web design and development as well as search engine marketing.