Best Stock Photo Providers in 2023
What are the benefits of using stock photos and media? How do you choose the right stock photo provider for your needs? Read more to find out.
Is a picture really worth a thousand words?
People relate to photos and images much faster than to any written text. When it comes to telling a story photos can be the most powerful tool in delivering a message that people will find interesting and remember. Using photos to mediate the connection with an audience is often an effortless way to introduce a topic, and won’t require much from the viewer.
More than leading to an immediate understanding, photos can also express feelings that are difficult to put words on. They add up to the visual interpretation and impression and are widely used in all kinds of videos including photo videos, on social media, blogs, and other websites, in emails, magazines, and by graphic designers – whether it’s for marketing, advertising, personal or non-profit projects. With just one look, clarity can be created.
Photos can be beautiful, intense, mysterious, even scary, or create wonder, and have caused fascination since the beginning. However, not everyone is skilled, equipped, or has the time or opportunity to take professional-looking photos, and that’s why today’s stock photography is a very valuable asset.
Choose a good stock photo provider
With the growing request, a big selection of stock photo providers has emerged. The differences between the companies lie in the number, quality, and variety of photos and in the indemnification and license fees. However, many stock photo providers today try to cover a broad variety of categories, meaning, with almost no effort you can search and find an image that fits your project perfectly. Just be aware that when companies offer ‘free’ downloads the risk that there’s a waiver of legal responsibilities is bigger, and “free” can end up becoming an expensive affair.
At first, it might seem like a bit of a jungle, and for sure there are a few things to consider including budget when choosing a stock photo provider. To make the choice easier we have collected our favorite stock photo providers in this article for you to pick the one that fits your needs and wishes the best.
1. Getty Images
- Big and variated selection of stock photos and videos
- Well-established and trustable service
Getty Images has been around for almost three decades and is one of today’s biggest and most popular stock photo providers with more than 80 million high-quality stock photos and more than 30,000 hours of video. The website is intuitive and it’s easy to search and find what you are looking for using keywords/phrases and filters. If you don’t have a clear idea yet there’s lots of room to get inspired, for example, by browsing through collections.
- Extensive premium content: provides a broad range of premium visuals, including images, illustrations, vectors, videos, and music, sourced from professional photographers and artists.
- Licensing options for various usage types: offers a wide range of licensing options, including rights-managed and royalty-free licenses, catering to different usage requirements and budgets.
- Editorial content: specializes in editorial content, providing access to news, sports, and entertainment images for journalistic and documentary purposes.
- Customized pricing and enterprise solutions: offers tailored pricing and enterprise solutions for businesses and organizations with specific needs.
- Advanced search and filtering: Its search functionality includes advanced filters, metadata, and keyword suggestions to help users find the most relevant visuals.
- Royalty-free music and audio clips (partnered with Epidemic Sound)
Getty Images provides customized pricing based on licensing requirements and usage. Pricing varies depending on factors such as image resolution, usage type, duration, and exclusivity. You can buy licenses individually for images starting at $150 per download, or one of their many package solutions starting at $125 per download.
Prices are definitely on the high end. However, with Getty Images, you’ll get both quantity and quality, and you won’t have to worry about copy-rights.
Psst! Did you know that now you can access stock photos, videos, audio, and music from Getty Images directly on NOVA A.I.?
- Big and variated selection of stock photos and videos
- Well-established and trustable service
- Relatively big and variated selection of photos
- Annual subscription and affordable prices
Stockphotos offers a diverse range of royalty-free images, illustrations, vectors, and videos at good prices. It aims to provide high-quality visuals for various creative needs. It has 8+ million images with 10,000+ new files added monthly.
- Vast content library: Offers a comprehensive collection of images, illustrations, and vectors covering diverse subjects and themes.
- Royalty-free licensing: All content on Stockphotos is available under royalty-free licenses, allowing for unrestricted usage for personal and commercial projects.
- User-friendly search functionality: It provides an intuitive search interface with keyword-based search, filters, and categories for efficient browsing and discovering relevant visuals.
- Extended license options: Stockphotos offers extended licenses for certain images, providing broader usage rights and higher print runs.
- Subscription plans and on-demand purchasing: Users can choose from subscription plans or purchase images individually, offering flexibility based on usage needs.
- Subscribe for an annual club subscription and get 200+ downloads plus more,
- You can download at any size. No hidden extra fee to obtain the highest resolution files.
Stockphotos offer an annual subscription: Club Easy $99/year, Club Plus $199/year, and Club Ultimate $299/year. On-demand image purchasing is also available, with prices varying depending on licensing requirements (standard or extended license).
- Cost-efficient solution
- Great variety
iStock, owned by Getty Images, is a popular stock photo provider offering a vast collection of royalty-free images, illustrations, vectors, videos, and audio clips. It caters to a wide range of creative projects and industries.
- Extensive content library: provides a comprehensive collection of high-quality visual and audio assets, with a focus on authentic and diverse content.
- Exclusive and non-exclusive content: It offers both exclusive and non-exclusive content, providing options for unique and budget-friendly assets.
- Easy-to-use search and discovery: Its intuitive search interface includes advanced filters, keywords, and categories for efficient browsing and finding relevant content.
- Simple licensing: offers straightforward royalty-free licenses, granting users broad usage rights without the need for additional permissions or fees.
- Flexible pricing options: Users can choose from subscription plans or purchase credits for on-demand downloads, allowing for flexibility and cost control.
- Access to iStock editor within all subscription plans.
iStock offers various pricing options, including subscription plans and credit packs. The subscriptions are divided into basic, premium, or premium+video and run annually or month-by-month with prices starting at $29 per month for a limited number of downloads. On-demand credit packs are available starting from $8.
Psst! Did you know that now you can access stock photos, videos, audio, and music from iStock Images directly on NOVA A.I.?
- 4+ million photos
- Free to use
Pixabay is a popular stock photo provider offering an impressive choice of high-quality, royalty-free images, illustrations, vectors, and videos. It sources content from a community of contributors and provides a wide range of visuals for various creative projects.
- Diverse content library: hosts a diverse collection of images, illustrations, vectors, and videos, catering to different themes and styles.
- Royalty-free licensing: All content on Pixabay is released under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, allowing free and unrestricted usage for personal and commercial projects.
- Easy search and filtering: Pixabay offers a user-friendly search interface with keyword-based search, filters, and categories for efficient exploration and discovery.
- Vector graphics and illustrations: In addition to photos and videos, Pixabay provides a significant collection of vector graphics and illustrations suitable for design projects.
- Localization and multilingual support: Pixabay supports multiple languages, making it accessible to users worldwide.
Pixabay provides its entire collection of images, illustrations, vectors, and videos for free, without any subscription or payment required.
- Free trial
- 400+ million photos
Shutterstock is a well-known stock photo provider offering a big library of high-quality images, illustrations, vectors, and videos. With more than 400 million assets available, it caters to various creative needs and industries.
- Extensive collection: offers a diverse range of content, including images, illustrations, vectors, and videos, covering multiple categories and themes.
- Easy search and discovery: Its user-friendly interface allows for quick and efficient searching, with advanced filters and sorting options.
- Licensing options: Shutterstock provides flexible licensing options, including royalty-free and extended licenses, to accommodate different usage requirements.
- Editorial content: It offers a comprehensive selection of editorial images for news, magazine, and documentary purposes.
- Now also AI-generated images
- Easy-to-use design tools
- Customizable plans: Users can choose from various subscription plans and image packs based on their needs, providing flexibility and cost-effectiveness.
- Free trial
Shutterstock offers both subscription plans and on-demand image packs. Subscription is annual or monthly and starts at $19 per month for a limited number of downloads. On-demand image packs are also available starting from $19 for a set number of image credits. As a plus, Shutterstock offers a 1-month free trial. However, you’ll need to sign off during the trial period unless you wish to continue with the annually billed subscription that will automatically begin after.
Pexels is a widely used stock photo provider offering a variated library of high-quality, royalty-free images and videos to use for free. It sources content from a community of photographers and videographers to provide a diverse range of visuals.
- Extensive content library: offers a large collection of photos and videos covering various subjects, styles, and concepts.
- Royalty-free licensing: All content on Pexels is licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, enabling free and unrestricted usage for personal and commercial projects.
- User-friendly interface: provides a user-friendly search interface with keyword-based search, trending searches, and popular categories for easy navigation and discovery.
- Curated photo collections: It curates photo collections based on themes, allowing users to find related images and explore specific visual concepts.
- Regular updates: Pexels adds new content regularly, ensuring a fresh and diverse selection of visuals.
Pexels offers its entire collection of images and videos for free, without any subscription or payment required. However, if you plan to sell products with the image or video in it, you’ll have to edit the image beforehand.
- 3+ million free photos
Unsplash is a popular stock photo provider known for its beautiful collection of high-resolution, royalty-free images. It offers a wide range of visually appealing photos contributed by photographers from around the world, free to use.
- Extensive image library: Unsplash hosts a large and diverse collection of high-quality images across various categories and themes.
- Royalty-free licensing: All photos on Unsplash are available under the Unsplash License, allowing for free and unrestricted usage for personal and commercial projects.
- User-friendly search: It provides an intuitive search interface with keyword-based search, popular collections, and curated topics for easy discovery of relevant images.
- Curated collections: Unsplash offers curated collections of images, providing inspiration and assisting in finding specific types of visuals.
- Community-driven platform: Unsplash fosters a creative community and allows photographers to showcase their work and gain exposure.
Unsplash provides its entire collection of images for free, without the need for any subscription or payment.
8. Adobe Stock
- 200 million curated photos
- Free trial
Adobe Stock is a stock photo service integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, making it convenient for designers and creatives. It offers a vast library of high-quality images, illustrations, vectors, videos, and templates.
- Seamless integration: Adobe Stock is seamlessly integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, allowing users to access and license images directly within their design workflows.
- High-quality content: It provides a diverse collection of professionally curated assets, ensuring quality and relevance.
- Extended license options: Users can purchase extended licenses for commercial projects requiring broader usage rights and higher print runs.
- Collaboration features: Adobe Stock enables easy collaboration by allowing users to share and license images with team members.
- Flexible pricing: It offers subscription plans and on-demand credit packs, catering to different usage needs and budgets.
Adobe Stock offers subscription plans with various options. The annual plans start at $29.99 per month for a limited number of standard assets. You can also subscribe to one of the month-to-month plans. On-demand credit packs are available starting from $49.99 for a set number of credits. You can get a 30-day free trial when subscribing – just remember subscription fee will be charged unless you sign off within the trial period.
So which stock photo provider should you choose?
Each of these stock photo providers has something to offer and which one is the best for you is a matter of personal preference, usage purpose, and not least budget. The good thing is that it takes only a few clicks to get started, and because the selection and variation of stock photos today is so great there’s something for every kind of project easily within reach. Through categories and specific search inquiries, it’s quick and fun to discover and pick images for your project, and let’s just say it’s nothing less than an entrance to endless fascination.
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