Regardless of your business or industry, quality photos and videos are an important part of almost any online platform — be it websites, blogs, or even emails.
But constantly having to produce your own quality photos can be difficult and time-consuming.
The simple solution? Stock image sites!
Stock image sites are a great resource where you can get high quality generic photos, illustrations and icons that you can use in your design for various purposes. The majority of these images are free from copyright restrictions — which means you are free to use them without having to give any credit or asking permission. This also means you’re free to copy, edit, and distribute them to your liking.
To help you find the right pick for your brand, here is our rundown of the best stock image sites in 2023:
Depositphotos is a global marketplace that offers royalty-free images, videos, vectors, illustrations, and even music. Currently, the site’s library now has over 200 million files and includes a community of over 100,000 contributors. Unlike other stock image sites, Depositphotos doesn’t offer a free trial, but it makes up for this by offering one of the cheapest small subscription plans.
Verdict: Depositphotos is ideal for smaller subscription plans, at 25 and 75 downloads per month. This is one of the cheapest prices per image, amounting to $0.83/image only. All image are sold under a royalty-free license with two main types: standard and extended. Depositphotos also has a good collection of built-in tools, like an image upscaler, that helps simplify your workflow.
Formerly known as iStockphoto, iStock is one of the most well-known and largest sites for royalty-free stock images. The site is constantly updated, with nearly a half a million new photos, illustrations, videos and audio files added each month. Stock images are split into two types of collections: Essential and Signature. The Essential collection offers affordable non-exclusive images, while the Signature one offers curated, high-quality visuals exclusive to the website.
Price: Basic subscription starts at $29/month
Verdict: iStock offers different pricing options for both individuals and small companies. Subscriptions are divided into three types: Basic (which contains the Essential collection), Premium (has both Essential and Signature Collections), and Premium+ (has both Essential, Premium, and videos and music). All visuals can be edited using a free iStock Editor Tool.
With a huge library that hosts more than 300 million images and over 20 million video clips, Shutterstock is one of the largest sources of stock photos, vector graphics, and other visuals. This site lets you buy subscriptions where you can pay a flat fee per month and download a limited number of photos. These monthly plans are a good deal if you’re a regular photo buyer that needs lots of high-resolution photos. But if you only need a few images, they also offer buy image packs on demand — so you have access to a few stock photos but without having to commit to a full subscription.
Price: Basic subscription starts at $29 for 10 images/month
Verdict: With high volume subscription plans that offer 350-750 images per month, Sutterstock is ideal for medium to large businesses. The price ranges are almost the same as other sides, but the advantage is that you’re guaranteed to always have fresh content because of their large selection of images.
Unsplash is a free stock photography site currently owned by Getty Images. The site has been named as one of the world’s leading photography websites, with a growing library of over 3.48 million photos. The premise of the site is that photographers are free to upload their work to the site, which are then curated by a team of editors. At present, the site has more than 265 contributing photographers. Unlike other stock image sites, Unsplash is completely free — which means no need for subscription plans or payment for images. The site earns its income from native advertising on its platform.
Verdict: All photos on Unsplash are released under the Unsplash license and are completely free to use for commercial, personal projects, and for editorial purposes. You do not need to ask permission or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible. The only licensing limitation is that photos cannot be sold without modification or used to replicate a competing stock image site.
5. Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock currently has 297 million stock images that consists of photos, illustrations, 3D assets, videos, motion graphics templates, and vectors at affordable prices with a royalty-free license. It stands out as having the largest free trial among all stock photo sites, since Adobe Stock allows you to download anywhere between 10 to 40 images for free during the first month of your annual subscription. Another advantage is that the site offers free integration with Adobe’s Creative Cloud — a huge advantage for graphic designers because they can browse stock images on apps like Photoshop and Illustrator.
Price: Images on demand for $8 each
Verdict: Adobe Stock provides an all-in-one solution for creatives and artists through its Creative Cloud Integration, so they can access Adobe’s stock images from integrated apps. This allows you to try multiple images in your projects and only pay for what you actually use when you export — helping you save money and improve overall workflow.