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Best Stock Photo Sites for 2024

Khung 1

A great stock photo site can make your job much easier. If you have a good source of royalty-free photos, you can finish creative projects faster, cheaper, and with proper licensing (and therefore more safely).

After using stock images for over 7 years—and downloading over 4000 images from over 50 stock photo companies—I recommend Shutterstock. It’s been my go-to choice since 2016, growing even larger over the years, improving pricing, and bettering the search.

Best overall: Shutterstock

Shutterstock logo red background

Shutterstock is my favorite stock photo site because it has an insane library of 434 million images with really good quality. It’s affordable even for those on a low budget and offers various discounts.

When asked, Shutterstock is the stock photography agency I recommend to most people without hesitation. It provides better value for your money than any other site. Shutterstock has long been the synonym for stock photography, and there’s a good reason for it—it’s simply the best stock photo site right now.

Even pros think it’s great. It’s true; I’ve been part of many teams that defaulted to Shutterstock whenever they needed high-quality visuals, and lots of my designer friends also prefer it over other options.

FLEX subscriptions are affordable and versatile. Shutterstock pricing has been updated for the better several times over the years. FLEX subscriptions allow you to download images, videos, and audio under one plan without buying a different one for each file type. This welcome change in 2022 made Shutterstock much better for creators.

The free trial lets you download 10 royalty-free images. The 10 monthly downloads with an annual commitment subscription plan comes with a free trial. During these 30 days, you save $29 on subscription fees and can download 10 images or 2 audio tracks.

It has a well-rounded, royalty-free license. It’s true that royalty-free image licenses are largely the same, but Shutterstock’s license is at the top whenever there are differences. It has one of the largest indemnities (at that price range) and comes with very few limitations to print runs and budgets. And if you need more permissions, the extended version of the license is also competitively priced.

Integrations are a nice touch. WordPress, Creative Cloud, Facebook, Wix, AWS, Microsoft, Printify, Staples, and more—these integrations let you browse Shutterstock assets directly from these services, so you don’t have to hop between the tabs.

Customer support is, well, excellent. Many stock photo sites skimp on customer support because they underestimate the importance. Shutterstock has the best customer support in class (perhaps only behind Depositphotos) available through live chat, phone calls, and email. The agents are quick to respond (1 to 5 minutes through chat and call) and knowledgeable. There’s also a detailed help section where you can find general answers faster.

Offset collection for premium images. If you want a higher production value, Shutterstock’s Offset collection provides just that. The 2 million premium photos used to be a separate website but are now part of Shutterstock’s domain. They cost between $250 and $350.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Some online reviewers complain about free trial terms. Shutterstock’s free trial terms indeed used to be sketchy (you had to cancel 4 days in advance). After lots of pushback from the community and my several appeals, Shutterstock now doesn’t require you to cancel the free trial early—you can do it at the last minute.

FLEX subscriptions are not guaranteed. Shutterstock is still experimenting (A/B testing) with its FLEX subscriptions, meaning that some customers don’t see them as an option. This can change based on your location or even within the same day. Pro tip: Deleting your cache or cookies can help.

Budget pick: Envato Elements

Envato Elements logo on green background

Budget pick

Envato elements logo

Envato Elements

Best affordable

Envato Elements offers unlimited downloads of all creative assets, including 8+ million images, for a low monthly fee of $11.70. But it has a smaller collection of images and worse licensing terms.

Envato Elements is a top choice for budget-conscious creatives. With an impressive library of 9.8 million assets, it’s a haven for designers, video editors, and developers. Its affordability and unlimited downloads offer tremendous value.

My go-to for budget projects. I regularly turn to Envato Elements for my creative ventures. The value you get from the $16.50 monthly subscription, which includes unlimited downloads, is amazing. It’s a perfect fit for those looking to maximize resources without breaking the bank.

A diverse range for all creatives. Envato Elements stands out with its vast selection of assets. Whether you’re designing, developing, or crafting videos, the platform has you covered with over 8.1 million images, 4.2 million videos, and millions of templates, fonts, graphics, SFX, music, plugins, and themes.

Simple and straightforward pricing. Envato Elements keeps it easy with its pricing. You can choose between individual, team, or student plans, with prices ranging from $11.50 to $39.00 per month. This straightforward approach makes it easy to pick the best option for your needs.

A licensing system that’s easy to navigate. Unlike other platforms with complex licensing, Envato Elements offers a single, royalty-free license for all its assets. This simplicity saves time and eliminates confusion, making it ideal for projects of various scopes.

Unmatched in content volume and versatility. Envato Elements has the largest and most diverse collection among unlimited download subscriptions, especially at this price point.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Some limitations in licensing. While Envato Elements’ licensing is straightforward, it may not suit all projects. First, there’s no extended license, meaning you may not use any of the assets for merchandise. Second, once you cancel the subscription, you may not use the already downloaded assets for new projects (you may still use them in the current).

No free trial, but free assets each month. While there’s no free trial, Envato Elements offers 12 free assets monthly. Before committing to a subscription, this is a great way to test the waters and see if the platform fits your needs.

Best for Adobe users: Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock logo blue background

Best for Adobe users

Adobe Stock logo

Adobe Stock

Best for Adobe users

Get Started

This stock photo site is similar to Shutterstock but comes with native integration into Adobe apps. Its licensing terms are also more suitable for certain creatives.

Adobe Stock is a great choice for those deeply invested in Adobe’s Creative Cloud. It boasts a massive collection of 326 million assets, integrated seamlessly with Adobe applications. It’s slightly pricier than Shutterstock, but its deep integration and quality make it worth it.

Seamlessly integrated with Creative Cloud. Adobe Stock’s native integration with Adobe apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro is a game-changer. It streamlines the workflow, making it super easy for creatives to access and edit high-quality stock images within their favorite Adobe tools.

Generous free trial and diverse content. Adobe Stock offers the most generous free trial in its category, worth between $30 and $80, depending on which of the three plans you pick. You can get 10, 25, or 40 standard image downloads or between 3 and 6 HD videos.

Perfect for Adobe loyalists. If you’re already using Adobe’s suite of tools, Adobe Stock is a no-brainer. It’s tailored to enhance and complement your creative process within the Adobe ecosystem, making it ideal for projects that require a tight integration with Adobe software.

A bit more expensive, but worth it. While Adobe Stock is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, the extra cost is justified by its quality, quantity, and seamless integration with Creative Cloud apps.

Licensing is straightforward. Adobe Stock simplifies the often-complex world of licensing. Its royalty-free license covers a wide range of uses, making it easy for users to understand and comply with the terms.

An impressive range of high-quality assets. With 326 million images and 26 million videos, Adobe Stock is a powerhouse. It caters to a wide range of creative needs, from high-end advertising to everyday design work.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Customer support could improve. One downside is Adobe Stock’s customer support, which isn’t as robust as some of its competitors. While it offers basic support channels, users have reported that the service could be more responsive and informative.

Music selection is limited. Compared to its vast collection of images and videos, Adobe Stock’s music library isn’t as comprehensive, which might be a letdown for those specifically looking for a wide range of audio options.

Extended licenses have limitations. While Adobe Stock’s extended licenses are useful, they offer a maximum indemnity of $10,000, which may not be sufficient for large-scale or high-risk projects.

Best for premium images: iStock

iStock logo green background


Best for premium photos

This premium stock photo site offers high-quality images at relatively affordable prices, but they are more expensive than standard images. Use PHOTUTORIAL20 for 20% off

iStock premium image collection makes up about 25% of their library of 173 million images. Although you can find premium images at other stock photo sites, too, iStock licenses them with subscriptions, making them much cheaper.

iStock offers a highly curated library of premium images. iStock has built a reputation for providing high-quality and often exclusive images through rigorous curation. While the image count is lower than some competitors, focus is placed on sourcing distinctive, premium content.

Offers a generous free trial. iStock provides a 30-day free trial that includes 10 high-quality images. This trial is an excellent way for new users to explore the range and quality of iStock’s offerings without immediate commitment.

The Signature collection stands out. The pricier Signature collection contains iStock’s most premium images, handpicked for superior quality and exclusivity. Signature images excel technically while capturing unique, visually compelling moments you won’t find elsewhere.

Seamless workflows enable efficiency. Integrations with Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, and more allow direct access to iStock’s library across platforms. This speeds up asset searches, sharing, and integrating media into projects.

Licensing terms rank among the best. iStock’s licensing adheres to industry standards while providing generous indemnities of up to $250k per image. You get perpetual, worldwide usage rights under fair restrictions. For unlimited users and prints, extended licenses provide enhanced benefits.

Diverse pricing options to suit every budget. Whether you’re a casual user or a professional, iStock has a pricing plan that fits. With subscription options ranging from $29 to $399 per month, there’s flexibility to suit different usage frequencies and project sizes.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Navigation and search can be better. Some users find it challenging to navigate and search for unique images, which may limit the variety and ease of finding the right visual.

Repetitive content in premium collections. While the Signature collection boasts high-quality images, there is a tendency to encounter repetitive content from the same photoshoot, which might limit options for some projects.

Best for bloggers & SME: Depositphotos

Depositphotos logo blue background

Best for bloggers and SMBs

Depositphotos logo


Best for bloggers and SMBs

This stock photo site comes with a low price per image, even with smaller subscriptions and image packs.

Depositphotos shines as a reliable source of high-quality stock photos, especially for bloggers and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). With over 255 million images, it’s a go-to for those needing up to 30 images per month.

Ideal for website and social media use. Depositphotos is a great fit for bloggers and small businesses. I’ve personally used it for website imagery and social media posts. The flexibility and quality of images available make it particularly appealing for online content.

Flexible subscription plans. Depositphotos offers varied subscription plans tailored to different needs, with no daily download limits on audio and SFX.

Competitive pricing. The platform’s pricing is competitive, offering images from as low as $0.19 to $5.80 per image. The main advantage of Depositphotos is that it offers images at low prices even without volume discounts, which most competitors do not.

Strong customer support. Depositphotos excels in customer support, offering assistance via phone, live chat, and email.

Free images collection. It also offers a collection of free images, a valuable resource for those looking to save costs or explore options before making a purchase.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Limited pricing flexibility. While Depositphotos offers great subscription and On Demand plans, the pricing overall could be more flexible. Unlike at Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, you have to buy a different plan for each content type, but this shouldn’t be an issue if you care only about images.

SubscriptionPhotutorial ratingImagesPriceLearn more
Shutterstock logo
Best stock photo subscription
434 million$25–$499/month
(10 to 750 downloads)
See offers
Envato Elements logo
Envato Elements
Best affordable
9.8 million$16.50– $39.00/month
(unlimited downloads)
See offers
Adobe Stock logo
Adobe Stock
Best for creatives
326 million$29–$249/month
(10 to 750 downloads)
See offers
iStock logo
Best for premium photos
173 million$29–$199/month
(10 to 750 downloads)
See offers
Depositphotos logo
Best for bloggers & SMB
255 million$25–$199/month
(10 to 750 downloads)
See offers

The competition

We gave Getty Images an honorable dismissal. It would’ve been one of our top picks, but many people cannot afford their high prices. It’s particularly popular among corporations looking for top-notch quality and for media houses that need editorial content.

123RF is one of those stock photography agencies that are not bad per se, but it also doesn’t excel in any aspect. It has a good collection of 210 million images and a surprisingly high indemnity of $25,000, but it doesn’t hold up to Shutterstock and iStock.

I’ve never been a fan of Dreamstime for one of several reasons: their images are not quality enough, are usually overedited, the pricing doesn’t make sense in many cases, and the extended licenses system is unnecessarily overpriced and overcomplicated.

Like Envato Elements, Vecteezy also comes with unlimited downloads at a similar price point, but the content library just isn’t that good. I also don’t like their customer support, which is either rude or not very useful.

Stocksy is good for rights-managed licensing but not so much for royalty-free licensing. It has a very small collection of 1.9 million images (even less than most free stock photo sites), so it’s really only good for one-time use.

Alamy has a large collection of stock images, but the quality is mediocre at best, and licensing is unnecessarily complicated and expensive. There’s also no indemnity, and customer support is pretty bad.

Shutterstock also owns Bigstock, a stock agency they’ve largely neglected. Although it offers one of the most generous stock image free trials, the licensing and quality are not worth your money.

Buying Guide: The best stock photo sites of 2024

What are stock photo sites, and why do I need one?

Stock photo sites offer big collections of images, illustrations, and sometimes videos, available for use under various licenses. These platforms are an excellent resource for designers, marketers, bloggers, and anyone needing quality visuals for their projects. If you’re working on a website, an ad campaign, or even a social media post, stock photos will enrich your work, making it more professional and engaging.

Think of this: You’re cooking a new recipe, and you realize you’re missing an ingredient. You wouldn’t plant and grow a tomato plant just for one tomato, right? Instead, you’d go to a store and buy what you need. Stock photo sites are similar. They save you the time and expense of arranging a professional photo shoot for every image you need.

Graphic of a stock photo site

Anyone can find value in stock photo sites—from professional designers to small business owners and individuals. They’re especially useful when you need an image quickly or can’t capture a specific scene or subject yourself. They are also built to be user-friendly by making searching for and downloading the images you need easy.

However, it’s not just about convenience. Quality matters. Top stock photo sites host collections of high-resolution, pro-tier images. Their teams curate the libraries to accept only images with good production value, properly edited, and genuinely useful. The range of available photos is extensive, covering virtually every imaginable topic and style.

Privacy and legality are key advantages of using stock photos. When you download an image from a reputable stock photo site, you get a license to use it, protecting you from copyright infringement. This aspect is paramount for businesses and individuals alike to avoid legal complications.

It’s worth noting that stock photo sites differ from image-sharing platforms like Instagram or Flickr. Stock photo sites specifically cater to commercial and editorial use, whereas image Instagram is more for personal expression and social interaction.

What are the limitations of stock photo sites?

Stock photo sites are handy, but they have their limits. For starters, while they’re rich in variety, they lack authenticity. Ever noticed how stock photos sometimes feel a bit staged? That’s because they often are. Here’s an example of a typical, poorly-staged stock photo you shouldn’t use:

Staged stock photo example
An example of a poorly-staged stock photo. The situation is worsened by poor acting and it’s unclear what it represents.

Then there’s the issue of overuse. For example, you choose a great stock photo for your ad campaign, only to see it on a billboard, a brochure, and your competitor’s site. It’s like buying a unique outfit and spotting three others wearing it at a party. Using such an image isn’t good for your brand’s reputation.

What about free stock photo sites?

Lots of new business owners like to turn to free stock photo sites because they find paid stock photo sites unnecessarily expensive. But if you look at more established businesses, you’ll notice that they all use paid and even premium stock images. Here’s why:

Indemnities: Paid stock photo platforms generally offer higher indemnity coverage, protecting you against copyright infringement claims and potential legal issues. Free stock photo sites almost exclusively provide zero coverage, thus leaving you more vulnerable to potential disputes.

Image quality: When it comes to image quality, paid stock photo sites often have the upper hand. They typically offer a vast library of high-quality, professionally shot images, ensuring you have access to top-notch visual content for your campaigns. While free stock photo sites can sometimes provide high-quality images, the overall quality and consistency may not be on par with their paid counterparts.

Selection: Paid stock photo sites usually boast a more extensive and diverse selection of images, allowing you to find the perfect visuals for your commercial campaigns. This vast selection ensures that you have a wide variety of unique and fresh images to choose from, reducing the likelihood of using over-selected or overused visuals. Free stock photo sites, on the other hand, tend to have a smaller and more limited library, increasing the chances of using images that have been widely circulated already.

Licensing: Paid stock photo sites often provide more flexible licensing options, granting you the right to use images in various ways, including commercially. Free stock photo sites may have more restrictive licenses or require attribution, limiting how you can use the images in your campaigns.

So, if you want to buy images for commercial use, paid stock photo sites are the way to go.

How to pick the right pricing plan

Types of pricing

Buying images one by one is the easiest, but it’s also by far the most expensive. Most stock image sites in our list (apart from Envato) offer subscriptions and image packs. Here are the key differences:

  • Subscription plans: You get a certain number of image downloads every month for a fixed monthly fee. This option is ideal for users who need a consistent stream of images, as it’s the cheapest way to get stock photos. The best stock photo subscriptions come in various sizes, with annual and bulk discounts, and provide a comprehensive royalty-free license.
  • Image packs: Pay-per-download (PPD) plans allow users to purchase images individually, typically at a higher per-image cost than subscription plans. This option is more suitable for individuals or businesses that need occasional images or prefer to choose specific images on an as-needed basis. PPD plans can be more economical for users who don’t need a lot of images or who can plan their image usage carefully.

How to choose the right plan

The best way to choose the right pricing plan for your needs is to consider the following factors:

  • Your usage: How often do you need to use stock photos? If you only need a few images per month, a pay-per-download plan might be a good option. If you need more images, a subscription plan might be a better choice.
  • Your budget: How much are you willing to spend on stock photos per month? Subscription plans can be more affordable if you need a lot of images, but pay-per-download plans can be a better option if you only need a few images.
  • Your needs: What types of images do you need? Some stock photo sites specialize in certain types of images, such as travel photos or business photos. Make sure to choose a site that has the images you need.

Here are some additional tips for choosing the right pricing plan:

  • Compare prices: Before you sign up for a plan, be sure to compare prices from different stock photo sites. You may be able to find a better deal by switching to a different site.
  • Take advantage of free trials: Many stock photo sites offer free trials. This is a great way to try out a site before you commit to a subscription.
  • Negotiate: If you’re a business user, you may be able to negotiate a discount with a stock photo site.

Which stock photo site is best?

Right now, Shutterstock tops our list of the best stock photo websites. This industry-standard, subscription-based stock image company is aimed at a wide array of customers, from bloggers to enterprises. It comes with sophisticated search tools and the largest collection of stock photos. And the latest AI image generator shows how committed Shutterstock is to continually improving.

The recent update to Shutterstock’s pricing is what finally sealed its fate at the top of our list of the best stock photography sites. Now, you can download images, videos, and music tracks with one active subscription, whereas before, you had to buy a subscription for each type of asset separately.

Complete industry overview

Below is a table that provides an overview of the stock photo industry. It includes the number of photos available in each library and their respective costs. However, please note that not all the sites listed in the table are recommended.

Stock photo siteNumber of imagesCost per image*
Shutterstock434 million$0.22–$14.50
Adobe Stock326 million$0.27–$9.99
iStock173 million$0.22–$14.90
Depositphotos255 million$0.19–$5.80
Envato Elements9.8 million$16.50–$39.00/mo
Getty Images203 million$50–$499
Alamy335 million$13.96–$675
Dreamstime209 million$0.23–$51.78
Vecteezy32 million$9.00–$14.00/mo
123RF210 million$0.36–$11.80
Stocksy1.9 million$15–$125
Bigstock118 million$0.16–$3.50
Freepik41 million$12–$24/mo
Unsplash+4 million$12–$20
YayImages16 million$8.25/mo
PxBee60 million$0.27–$2.39
Death to Stock7 million$33–$49/mo
Photocase~2–3 million$15–$45
Stock Photo Secrets8 million$0.17–$7.80
Crestock2.5 million$0.25–$30
Photodune9.6 million$2–$501
agefotostock125 million$0.27–$300
Science Source1.1 million$49–$249
StockFood922 thousand$50–$75
* Prices that have “/mo” included are monthly subscription fees for the unlimited download plans. Since you get unlimited downloads, there was no way to calculate the price per image.


What is the best stock photo site?

Shutterstock is the best stock photo site, praised for its vast library of over 434 million images, broad royalty-free license, affordable pricing, and great extras. It offers excellent search functionality, diverse content, and user-friendly integration with other platforms, making it the top choice for a wide range of users.

What is the best stock photo site for designers?

Adobe Stock is the best stock photo site for designers, offering over 326 million assets with seamless integration into Adobe Creative Cloud applications. It provides a large variety of high-quality images and videos, tailored for creative projects and streamlined workflows, making it ideal for Adobe users and design professionals.

What is the best stock photo site for bloggers?

Depositphotos is the best stock photo site for bloggers, offering over 255 million images with flexible subscription-based pricing starting at just $0.22 per image. It’s ideal for bloggers and small businesses due to its competitive pricing, strong customer support, and a diverse range of high-quality photos suitable for online content.

What is the best stock photo site for commercial purposes?

Shutterstock is the best stock photo site for commercial purposes, offering a vast library of 434 million images, a broad royalty-free license, and affordable pricing. Its extensive image collection, high-quality content, and strong customer support make it ideal for diverse commercial projects, enhancing productivity and creativity.

Daniel Long

Daniel Long

About Author

Daniel Long, as a writer, delves into the realm of emerging technologies and business solutions, with a particular emphasis on optimizing efficiency and fostering growth. He educational background includes a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Irvine, and he furthered his knowledge by attaining an MBA from Chapman University. This combination of expertise allows him to offer valuable insights into the ever-evolving business landscape.

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