The search for beautiful images is now easier than ever thanks to the many stock photography sites that have appeared in the past few years. They offer both high-quality shots and also the licenses to use those images–removing any legal worry from your search.
We have compiled 15 of the best stock photography sites in the world. First 10 are free sites. However, if you can afford to pay, check out these paid stock photography sites too.
Best Free Stock Photography Sites
We’ll start with the best free stock photography sites available at the moment.
1. Pexels (free)
Pexels is one of my favorite stock photography sites. The website has a clean design with a search bar and the option to check popular photos from either the last 30 days or from the entire site.
Although there are no categories to actually browse, there is a ‘Discover’ section containing interesting collections, plus a board of ‘Top Photographers’ to inspire you.
If you need images with specific colors, Pexels has a handy ‘Search by color’ option, to make your life much easier.
You don’t need to sign in to download photos, but if you do, you will be able to like images and follow your favorite photographers.
Author attribution is not required, but if you want to support the author’s work, you have the option at download to thank him/her with a PayPal donation or by getting in touch on Instagram.
2. Pixabay (free)
Pixabay is home to more than 1.6 million free images, vectors, and videos. Although all images are released under the Pixabay License, and no attribution is required, although they do appreciate it if you credit the photographer.
One great advantage to Pixabay is that each image has 4 sizes of resolution to download (640 x 411 pixels, 1280 x 1233 pixels, 1920 x 1233 pixels and 3392 x 2180 pixels), so you can download the one that fits you the best–no need to re-size yourself later on.
Registration is optional (and free) and will give you access to extra features such as the ability to leave comments about photos or to download full resolution images.
3. Unsplash (free)
Unsplash is the site for you if you want free high-resolution images with a more arty style. They shy away from the traditional ‘stock photography’ look and offer more innovative images.
The site is clean and easy to browse via categories. They even have weekly collections, which are great for exploring new topics.
Being artsy doesn’t mean they have a smaller collection than other sites either: you can browse more than 900,000 beautiful images, wallpapers, textures, and patterns.
4. Gratisography (free)
This site defines itself as the world’s ‘quirkiest collection of free high-resolution images’.
Gratisography is simple to use, with just a search bar and an option to browse by categories (animal photography, business, nature photography, objects, people, urban photography and whimsical). You can also subscribe to a weekly new picture alert by email.
They aim for imaginative and they certainly deliver. You will be surprised by the creativity of some of the images. If you are searching for different and real, Gratisography is one of the better options of the free stock photography sites.
5. Foter (free)
Foter is an easy to use and elegant site, which makes browsing for images enjoyable.
The home page contains just three things: a search bar, a categories section and a browse by ideas area. Photos can easily be sorted by relevant/recent/popularity or license type (commercial or non-commercial).
One advantage of this site is its ease of use. Once you select an image, there are only 3 steps to follow: choose one of the available image sizes; check the license availability; and copy appropriate texts for attribution. These steps make your life much easier.
Although bear in mind you won’t find high-resolution images on this site. But if you are more of a digital user, you will find Foter a great resource.
6. Fancy Crave (free)
The motto of the Fancy Crave site is ‘quality over quantity’, and when you visit their homepage you will see why.
They offer the most beautiful travel images of all the stock photography sites. They also offer technology shots, abstract images, and animal photos, thanks to contributions from thousands of creators all over the world.
You can browse via the search bar or categories, and another unique aspect is the ability to sort images by country.
If you like exploring, check out their inspiring collections: some are quite surprising and original. They cover subjects ranging from peaceful cow photos to cryptocurrency. Moreover, they introduce each collection with text that is both educational and entertaining.
7. Reshot (free)
What I like most about the Reshot site is its simplicity. You feel comfortable on this site from the very first click and their license explanations are easy to read.
They prefer quality over quantity. They have high standards and offer the best emerging photographers a platform for sharing their work.
As a result of their philosophy, you will be delighted by their beautiful collection of photos.
8. StockSnap.io (free)
StockSnap.io offers a constantly growing selection of beautiful high-resolution free photos.
They curate the highest quality images from a huge amount of submissions and add hundreds of new photos on a daily basis.
As well as the usual search bar, they also have a tag-based category system. Furthermore, the site tracks visitor’s views and downloads so you can find the most popular images of the moment.
9. NegativeSpace (free)
One of the key advantages of the Negative Space site is that you can search by suggested keywords.
The site design is clean and elegant, plus you can choose from a wide variety of categories including topics as diverse as fashion photography, architectural photography, sports photography or typography.
Another huge bonus of this site is the option to search for images by specific colors.
The Best of Subscription Stock Sites
Now we’ve covered the free stock image providers, let’s move on to the best, paid subscription stock photography sites.
10. Adobe Stock (Paid Subscription)
Adobe Stock is one of the most well-known stock photography sites. They offer a wide selection (over 40 million) of high quality curated photos for both individual and commercial needs.
Not only you can access directly from their site, but also through Adobe Cloud and software. This makes Adobe Stock a great option if you are a graphic designer or artist. It is the only stock site that is integrated with the most recent versions of Adobe software including Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
Related Article: Lightroom vs. Photoshop
Their most popular subscription plan includes 10 standard images a month for $29.99 per month if you pay annually ($49.99 if you pay every month).
You also have the option to purchase credits you can later exchange for products. For example, one standard image or one template will cost you one credit, and an HD video will cost 8 credits. The 40-credit package costs $359.99. Basically, the higher the media quality, the more credits you will need.
11. Shutterstock (Paid Subscription)
Founded in 2003 by Jon Oringer, using his own photography, Shutterstock was the first global subscription image marketplace. It now offers more than 259 million images and 150,000 new files are added every day.
It is an excellent source if you need high-resolution images. They are sorted by categories and curated collections, so you can easily find images.
Their most popular subscription plan includes 350 images for $169 USD if you take the annual payment plan. If you don’t like subscriptions, however, they also offer pre-paid packs. The most popular plan includes 5 images for $49 USD to download throughout a year.
If you work within a team, check out their multiple user plans. But if you don’t find a plan that suits you, don’t worry, they also offer personalized options.
Individual plans also include free plugins to access content from PowerPoint and other Adobe applications. It even includes a basic editor and professional templates for social media.
12. Getty Images (Paid Subscription)
If you need high-resolution images to print, Getty Images might be a good option.
However, images come at a price. A small resolution single image costs $125 USD. Prices increase with the quality of the image, for example, you can pay $499 USD for a high-quality file.
They not only have one of the biggest databases of stock media but also have an excellent reputation. They claim you will have photos that nobody else has, and by their prices, it must be true!
13. iStock by Getty Images (Paid Subscription)
iStock is a good option if you need a large quantity of royalty-free, low-resolution images for digital use only.
The site contains millions of images. The resolution limitation allows them to lower their price in comparison with their big brother Getty Images, offering affordable subscription plans via a credit system.
The smallest subscription at 3 credits costs $33 USD Alternatively, you can access 25 images per month for $120 USD per month (yearly), or $149 USD per month (monthly).
You can only search via keyword though, so you will need to know in advance the type of images you need.
14. 123RF (Free or Paid Subscription)
123RF is a great budget option, offering stock photos, vectors, video clips and music at surprisingly low prices.
Searching for images is easy, with lots of categories and subcategories available. You can even sort images using filters.
They also have ‘new images’ and ‘trending photos of the moment’ sections to browse if you need inspiration. There is even a ‘featured contributors’ section in which you can learn more about the photographers.
They do have a limited selection of free images, however, most of their media is subscription based.
You can buy either credit or subscribe to a plan. Credits cost around $0.98 USD per credit. The more you purchase, the better the discount and the cheaper each image will be. Subscription plans start at $29 USD a month for 10 images. The price per image gets more affordable if you choose larger packages, for example, paying $79 USD will get you 150 images per month.
They offer four download sizes for each image, from S to XL. The site is clear about how many credits you need for each size and it is easy to see the pixels and centimeters of whichever size you are buying.
15. Dreamstime (Free or Paid Subscription)
The collection on Dreamstime is huge, with 100 million stock photos, video footage, audio, illustrations, vectors, and editorials. It claims to be the world’s largest stock community, with 24 million users.
One of the best features of this site is the option to add multiple images to your basket, so you download them all at the same time.
They offer both free and affordable subscription images. There are many subscription plans, starting at $20 USD a month for 5 images. As with many other stock sites, there is the option to purchase credits. You can buy as few as 11 credits for $14.99 USD, or as many as 120 credits for $124.99 USD.
So now you have no excuse for using low quality, mediocre photos in your content.
Check out the 15 stock photography sites we have listed above and there is bound to be something useful for you and your brand.
Which is your favorite out of the stock photography sites we have listed? Have we missed any? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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