Stock Photos and Images

Quick Review of Stock Photo Websites

by Kim G on December 16, 2010

If you’ve read any of my posts on this blog, you know that I usually recommend using professional stock photography in desktop publishing projects.  The Internet has millions of beautiful photos and images readily available, and some are very reasonably priced (even free).  Of course, there are licensing and usage rules associated with these images.  Read our post “Understanding Stock Photo Licensing” to get a good understanding of these rules.  In this post, we’ll discuss Royalty Free Websites and I’ll give you a brief  list of where you can download stock photography and images.

Rights Managed (RM) and Royalty Free (RF) Images

Rights Managed (RM) copyright  licenses  allows you to use the photos for one particular project.  If you want to use that photo for other projects, you’ll  have to purchase a new license. Stock photo websites have a variety of pricing structures.  Rights Managed sites often have calculators so that you can figure out the price based on your specifications.  RM images can be very expensive.

Royalty free copyright licenses allow you to use the photo for multiple projects, for a one-time fee. Sites that have royalty free photos can have have a variety of pricing options.  The  size (resolution or DPI) of the photo usually drives the price.  Stock photo prices can vary per site,  starting as low as less than $1 going on up to several hundred dollars.  You should take time to explore the different sites to determine which one has quality photos and support for the lowest price.  Here are a few of the main pricing options available.

1.  Credits — Many photo sites make use the credit system.  You buy a certain amount of credits, and use them to purchase your files. Read the fine print, though.  Sometimes your credits will expire after a certain length of time.
2.  Subscription plans — For one set fee you can download a certain amount of photos during a specific time frame.  These sites usually have daily or weekly download limits.
3.  Pay per image — Allows you to purchase just one single image.

Types of Image Files

Stock Photo websites have a wide range of image files.  Most stock photo websites have very good search functions so that you can find exactly what you need.  You can search on keyword or a specific adjective such as color, size, ethnicity, and emotion.  You can also filter on file type.  Here are a few different types of image files:

1.  Photos Images — Photos are usually in jpeg format and come in multiple sizes (called resolution or DPI).   Prices are usually based on the size of the picture.
2.  Photo Objects – Isolated Objects — Photo Objects are objects on a transparent or blank backgrounds.
3.  Clip art / Illustrations — These images are drawings or caricatures.
4.  Vector Images — Vector Images are scalable images.  You can make them as big or small as you want with loosing image quality.  Vector files usually come in one size.
5.  Video/Audio/Flash Files/Animations
6.  Backgrounds, Buttons, Icons, Textures

Stock Photography Website Listing

Listed below are some some Royalty Free (RM) and Rights Managed (RM) sites.  Some you have to pay for, and some are free.  I have listed general pricing information, but of course this information can change.  You should take time to familiarize yourself with these sites before you need a photo.  At a minimum, read through their pricing information and their terms of service.

Higher-End Stock Photo Websites

Getty Images – Higher end site that has both RM and RF.  RF images range from $5 to $500.

Jupiter Images — – Higher end site that has both RM and RF.  RF images range from $35 to $500.

Corbis Images –  — RF and RM  — RF images range from $35 to $500.

Shutterstock — Priced per month starting at about 250.00.  Up to 25 downloads a day.  Also has “occasional use” pricing — Subscritpion packages starting at $300 for 3 months.  Also has “Image Pack” pricing plans

Moderately Prices Stock Photo Websites — Despite the name, this site has a decent collection of non-clipart images. Very inexpensive site…prices start at $14.99 for one week.  Images are low resolution.  Higher resolutions available at

IStockPhoto — Credits range from  $.95 – $1.50 depending on how many you buy (12 credit minimum).  Also has a subscription plan.

Big Stock Photos – Credits range from  $.95 – $3.00 depending on how many credits you buy (5 credit minimum).

Fotolia – Credits are about $1 (credit minimum of $10.00). Subscritpions start at $250 for one month.   I like this site because you can download a really low resolution preview copy before you purchase.

Deposit Photos –  This site has credits, subscriptions and “single image” pricing plans.  Good variety of photos and vector art.  Very reasonable prices.

123RF – Credits range from  $.95 – $3.00 depending on how many credits you buy (5 credit minimum).  Several subscriptions packages starting at $89 for one month.  They also have some free photos available.

Crestock — Their motto is Good, Cheap, Fast.  This site allows you to buy individual images quickly and easily with no confusion pricing structure.  You can purchase a single image, starting at $1.00.

Dreamstime — They advertise credits for as low as 20 cents, but you have to create an account before you can see exactly how much the images will cost.  They also have free royalty free photos available.

Free Royalty Free Photo Websites –  Free to download, but licensing and usage rules still apply.

MorgueFile – Free means free.  Morgue file seems to have the least amount of restrictions.  Their license policy is straight forward, and you can use them in commercial projects without  attribution (giving the author credit). –  Medium sized photos are free, but usually require you to credit the photographer on the same page or screen as the photo.

Stock.xchng — Good photos, but the first line of photos are premium photos that you have to pay for, scroll down to get to the free ones.

Public Domain Pictures — This site is very forthcoming with license and credit information.  They also include images that you must pay for right on the search results page.

Dreamstime Free Photos –   Free section of the Dreamstime website.

123RF Free Photos –  Free section of the 123RF website.

Every Stock Photo –   This site has free royalty free photos from many different sources.

Wikimedia Commons –  — Images from Wikipedia

Flickr – Photo sharing website.  Most images use Creative Commons Liscense.

Well, these websites should get you on your way to finding great photos and images to use in your web and printed publications.  There are still many, many websites that have professional photos.  Hopefully you can find the perfect image.



Understanding Stock Photo Licensing

Throughout this blog, I’ve talked about using professional stock photos in you desktop publishing projects.  Whether you are making a flyer, creating a brochure or any other publication, using stock photography is a quick and easy way to communicate meaning, and give a polished and professional look to your publications.  Now, I know we’ve all […]

Read the full article →
Web Analytics