21 Best Premium & Free Stock Photography Websites

When designing websites or printed materials it is imperative you spend time finding or creating images that fit the style of your overall design and the branding of your client if you are doing commercial work. Using crappy images is the quickest way to ruin well designed websites or printed materials. More often than not, getting the best images for a design will involve looking to external sources rather than producing them yourself. Most designers simply don’t have the time or expertise to create the photographs or vector images they require and with so many good stock photography sources online it makes sense to search those first.

In order to help you in your search, I have listed the 11 best premium Stock Photo Websites and 10 of the top sites to get free stock photography and imagery. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for in this life and whilst the free sites have tons of free images, it is well worth paying a few dollars to get the higher quality images from the premium suppliers if you are undertaking a commercial project.

These premium stock photos suppliers have a range of different pricing models (i.e. per per image, credit packs and/or monthly subscriptions) and it is generally much better value on a ‘price per image’ basis to pay for pre-paid credits or a subscription package. If you are a photographer or illustrator many also offer a profit share model whereby you can upload and sell your work on their sites. This is how they keep adding to their huge databases of images and stock photos.

All the prices quoted below were accurate at the time of writing (Feb 2014) so please let me know in the comments section if any pricing needs to be updated. The first section will include all the premium stock image providers and the second section will have a list of which websites supply free images.

Premium Stock Photography Sources

iStock

istock.com

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iStock Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image: Available – Price depends on photo
  • Credit Packs (over 25% savings)
    • 10 credits: $19.99 ($2 per credit)
    • 3,000 credits: $4,200 ($1.40 per credit)
  • Subscription Fees: Multiple number & timeframe options from
    • 3 Months: $995 – 35 Images a day / 3150 images total  ($0.31 per image)

Files

Stock Photography, Stock Illustrations, Stock Video, Audio, Editorial

iStock Overview

Having started with just stock photography, iStock now also offers vector illustrations, videos, music and sound effects. All the images in istock are sold royalty free so you can do what you wish with the images. They were one of the first companies  in this industry iStock and now have millions of files, millions of members and tens of thousands of contributing photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, sound engineers and videographers. Their business model has remained the same during their 14 year history – anyone for free, find the photos, graphics, audio of video they need and sell their own original content. They have a credit system for purchases but you can also pay as you go (you can save over 25% by using the credits).

Dreamstime

dreamstime.com

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Dreamstime Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • $15 – 11 Credits ($1.36 per image / 1 credit per small image) up to
    • $1760 – 2000 Credits ($0.88 per image / 1 credit per small image)
  • Subscription Fees: Various quantities and timeframes from
    • Daily Download 1 Month: $209 – 25 Images Per Day / 750 Images / $0.27 per image up to
    • Daily Downloads 12 Months: $3853 – 50 Images Per Day / 18250 Images / $0.21 per image

Files

Stock Imaes, Stock Footage

Dreamstime Overview

Dreamstime is one of the first royalty free photo sites having started in 2000. Most of its stock comes from its own community of photographers and at the time of writing it had  21.5M stock photos and over 7M users – it really is huge.

ShutterStock

shutterstock

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ShutterStock Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  From $14.50 per image (min 2 images)
  • Credit Packs: N/A
  • Subscription Fees:
    • 1 Month: $249 – 25 Images a day / 750 images total  ($0.33 per image)
    • 3 Months: $709 – 25 Images a day / 3150 images total  ($0.32 per image)
    • 12 Months: $2559 – 35 Images a day / 3150 images total  ($0.28 per image)

Files

Stock Photography, Stock Vectors, Stock Footage

ShutterStock Overview

Shutterstock gives yo access to over 30 million royalty free photos, vectors, illustrations, icons and video footage.  It also has a large editorial section for media companies looking for photos of the latest events or new stories. They offer a free subscription model which gives members free photos each week. In order to download their premium image you can use their pay per file option or you can also sign up to their monthly subscription model which allows you to download 25 images every day (all JPEG and vector sizes).

ThinkStock

ThinkStock.com

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ThinkStock Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  From $14.50 per image (min 2 images)
  • Credit Packs: 
    • 5 Downloads: $49
    • 10 Downloads: $229
    • 25 Downloads: $799
    • 100 Downloads: $1,499
  • Subscription Fees:
    • 1 – 12 Months: $139 – 50 Downloads per month
    • 1 – 12 Months: $208 – 25 Download per day

Files

Stock Photography, Stock Vectors, Stock Footage

ThinkStock Overview

Thinkstock collates millions of premium royalty-free photos, vectors and illustrations from Getty Images, iStock and our worldwide image partners that have been created by users and employed creatives. It can be worth using ThinkStock rather than going directly to Getty Images or iStock as their pricing plans may suit you better and you will have more choice of images.

Veer

veer

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Veer Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image: From $2 per photo
  • Credit Packs: 
    • 12 credits: $18.48 / $1.54 per credit (23 % saving compared to pay per image up) to
    • 12,000 credits: $11,880 / $0.99 per credit (51% saving compared to pay per image)
  • Subscription Fees:
    • 30 Days: $229 – 20 Images a day / 600 images total  ($0.38 per image)
    • 365 Days: $2,338 – 20 Images a day / 7,300 image total ($0.33 per image)

Files

Stock Photography, Stock Illustrations, Fonts

Veer Overview

Veer offers over 2.3 million premium stock photos and images. You have 3 different ways to pay – credit packs, pay as you go or subscription which allow you to download 20 photos per day. In addition to this, the vast community of Veer allows you to interact with your peers.

123RF

123rf

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123RF Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • 10 credits: $12.76 ($1.28 per credit / $1.28 per small image) up to
    • 400 credits: $343 ($0.85 per credit / $0.85 per small image )
  • Subscription Fees:
    • 5 Images a day ($0.44 per image) : 1 month $89 / 3 Months $199 / 3 Months $389 / 12 Months $749
    • 26 Images a day ($0.25 per image): 1 month $229 / 3 Months $589 / 6 Months $1119  / 12 Months $1959

Files

Photos, Vectors, Video Footage, Audio

123RF Overview

123RF is a renowned premium photo stock website which has also started offering images suitable for mobile sites. As well as stock photos they offer vectors, video and audio files to purchase for commercial use. At the time of writing they had nearly 26 million stock photos available to download royalty free with approximately 35,000 creative files being added every day.

DepositPhotos

depositphotos

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DepositPhotos Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • $32 – 30 Credits ($1.07 per image) up to
    • $455 – 500 Credits ($0.91 per image)
  • Subscription Fees: Various quantities and timeframes from
    • Daily For One Month: $69 – 5 Images a day / 150 images total  ($0.46 per image) to
    • Daily For One Year: $10,999 – 200 Images a day / 3150 images total  ($0.32 per image)
    • Monthly Plans: From 5 images per month ($49) to 2000 images per month ($3,999).

Files

Stock Photography, Vector Images, Stock Video Footage

Deposit Photos Overview

Deposit Photos offer subscription or pay as you go payment plans for its premium stock photos, vector images and videos. They have support available in 14 languages  and thousands of photographers in 192 countries contributing images.

Pixmac

pixmac

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Pixmax Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • $30 – 30 Credits ($1 per image / 1 credit per small image) up to
    • $276 – 300 Credits ($0.92 per image / 1 credit per small image)
  • Subscription Fees: (Medium size / 3 credits is minimum size)
    • Daily For One Month: $100 – 15 Credits Per Day / 450 Credits / $0.22 per credit
    • Daily For One Month: $200 – 35 Credits Per Day / 1050 Credits / $0.19 per credit
    • Daily For One Month: $300 – 100 Credits Per Day / 3000 Credits / $0.10 per credit

Files

Stock Photography

Pixmax Overview

Pixmac was launched in 2008 in Switzerland and partners with other image sites to top up its supply if member images. As well as a large collection of premium files available to purchase, it also has a library of 64,000 free images to download.

Getty Images

www.gettyimages.com

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Getty Images Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image: From $25 per photo
  • Credit Packs: N/A
  • Subscription Fees: N/A

Files Types 

Creative Stock Photography, Editorial Photography, Archive Photography, Music Video

Getty Images Overview

Getty Images is one of the most well known and best hubs for finding rights managed and royalty-free images. They have a huge photo archive as well as up to date editorial images, music, videos and other multimedia that added to daily. Their minimum prices are higher than most of the other sites but this represents the type of imagery they are providing  – rather than typical ‘stock photography’ their images are typically more creative, unique and of higher quality.

Photocase

photocase

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Photocase Prices

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • $16 – 6 Credits ($8 per image / 3 credits per image) up to
    • $1350 – 1000 Credits ($4.05 per image / 3 credits per image)
  • Subscription Fees: ( save up to 50% off the cost of an equivalent download credit package)
    • Daily For One Month: $180 – 9 Credits Per Day / 270 Credits / max 90 Images ($2 per image) to
    • Daily For One Month: $210 – 20 Credits Per Day / 600 Credits / max 200 Images ($1.05 per image)
    • Monthly Plans: From 5 images per month ($49) to 2000 images per month ($3,999).

Files

Stock Photography

Photocase Overview

Photocase is the perfect destination for designers in search of quirky and cool photos, vectors and illustrations. You can prepaid for blocks of credits or just pay for single photo purchases.

Big Stock Photos

BigStock Stock Photography

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BigStock Pricing

  • Royalty Free Price Per Image:  Not Available
  • Credit Packs: 
    • 10 credits: $50.00 ($5 per credit / $5 per small image) up to
    • 500 credits: $655 ($1.31 per credit / $1.31 per small image )
  • Subscription Fees:
    • 1 Month: $69 – 5 Images a day  ($0.46 per image)
    • 3 Months: $199 – 5 Images a day ($0.44 per image)
    • 12 Months: $2639 – 5 Images a day  ($0.35 per image)
    • Also options for 10, 20, 50 or more images per day.

Files

Stock Photography, Stock Illustrations

Big Stock Overview

Bigstock has over 17 millions photos, illustrations and vectors to choose from so you are unlikely to come up short in your search. As you can see from screenshot above they offer a free trial whereby you can download 5 royalty free images.

Free Stock Photography Websites

Stock Free Images

stockfreeimages

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Owned by Dreamstime, Stock Free Images houses nearly 1 million photos well suited for web and print designers indulged in designing for different purposes.

Freerange Stock

freerange

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Creating a free account with Freerange offers you an easy access to thousands of high-resolution images and textures. By submitting your photos to Freerange, you can also make some quick money they offer a share of its advertising revenue to photographers who submit their photos.

Flickr

flickr

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Although Flickr is known as one of the finest online photo management and sharing applications, it is also a brilliant resource for finding free images that can be used for personal or commercial use. However, you need to check the licence agreements for the photos before you use them – not all allow commercial use.

Stockvault

stockvault

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Stockvault is yet another premium stock photo website offering an appealing collection of over 44,000 stock photos, textures, video footage. To date, the website has about 65000 registered members.

Stock.XCHNG

stockexchng

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Stock.XCHNG is the hub for a huge collection of over 350,000 high quality stock photos brought to you by more than 30,000 professional photographers.

MorgueFile

Morguefile.com

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morgueFile is a website created by designers for designers. It has a huge collection of high resolution photos that look amazing when printed. You must take out time to go through the high quality images that are available on the website for free download.

DeviantART

deviant

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DeviantART is an excellent source for finding an amazing range of free images made available by thousands of talented graphic designers and photographers. You can find high resolutions images available in categories including Animals, Food, Nature, Objects, Places, Plants, Classical, Vintage and many more.

Pixel Perfect Digital

pixelperfect

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Unlike other free stock images websites, Pixel Perfect allows you to choose images after filtering them on the basis of specific RGB or hexadecimal color values.

Fotolia

fotolia

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Fotolia adds over 20,000 new images to its stock on a daily basis and has a wide collection of photos, illustrations and vectors.

RGB Stock

rgbstock

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RGB Stock is a budget-friendly solution to finding stock photos and free graphics for backgrounds, wallpapers and illustrations, to be used in different print-ready designs.

Creative Commons Search

creativecommas

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The Creative Commons Search allows you to quickly find images with a creative commons licence (i.e. images that are free for commercial and personal use). However, you need to double check the licensing of all images found as the images found are not guaranteed to be CC.

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