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The 5 Best Stock Images Providers

4 minute read

By natadm

Strong visuals are just as important for your business’ digital marketing as persuasive writing and SEO. According to Xoombi, visual marketing gives your content 94 percent more views – and it’s because people process visuals faster than words.

If you aren’t a photographer or don’t have the time to craft your own images, you can snag professional-quality pictures on stock image sites. These sites offer photos in virtually every category to buff up your marketing or website needs. Choose from the following top stock image resources so you never create a blog post without the perfect image again.

1. Unsplash

Price: Free

Variety of Images Available: More than 550,000

While there are many free stock photo sites, many of them simply work as search engines, pulling royalty-free images from different locations on the web. Therefore, they all share the same photos.

Unsplash is a little different. It features images from some of the world’s best professional photographers. You’ll find photos different than those on other free stock photography sites. The ones on Unsplash are a little more artistic, and many are simply breathtaking.

Unsplash contains many photos of landscapes, nature, people and animals. You can find gorgeous flat lays and sunlit exteriors. Users can curate collections to help organize images into certain categories. Although you might be tempted to search for what you need directly, which is certainly possible on this platform, you may find that you get creative inspiration from other users’ collections.

2. Fotolia/Adobe Stock

Price: Flexible and affordable

Variety of Images Available: Wide variety; millions of photos

Fotolia by Adobe has been amassing photos since 2004. The company claims to have more than 125 million images. However, Fotolia’s website says users have access to just 30 million files. Either way, that’s a lot of images.

Fotolia’s collections include vectors, illustrations, videos, and traditional photographs. Categories include everything from people and animals to sports and science.

There are a variety of pricing plans. You can pay as you go, purchasing individual images, or sign up for a subscription. Pricing varies depending on how you plan to use the photos. Print projects are more expensive than web projects, and an extended license is the priciest.

3. iStock

Price: High for individual images; competitive subscription prices

Variety of Images Available: Wide variety; multiple formats

iStock was one of the first microstock agencies, launched in 2000 with a large library. The company doesn’t advertise the number of files that it contains, but onextrapixel said it had 6 million exclusive files in 2013.

The iStock platform offers credits you can use to download individual photos. You can also purchase subscriptions. The Essentials images subscription gives you access to photos, illustrations, and vectors in the budget collection. The premium image subscription allows you to download premium images as well as those in the Essentials collection.

To give you an example of pricing, purchasing a single photo from the iStock Essentials collection might cost $12, whereas a vector from the Signature collection may cost $33. Paying for a subscription gives you more flexibility and lowers the cost.

4. 123RF

Price: As low as $0.70 per credit on demand or $0.35 per image with subscription

Variety of Images Available: Unique images, including audio and video footage

One of the most attractive features of 123RF is its straightforward pricing. A download pack of standard images, editorial images or vectors costs $39 for 5 images or $169 for 25 images. An on-demand purchase gives you credits to use toward downloads of even more image formats, while a subscription plan gives you the most value if you download five or more images a day.

This platform offers audio and video footage in addition to still pictures. The company claims to have more than 104 million creative works, making it one of the largest digital stock agencies out there.

5. Dreamstime

Price: As low as $0.20 per image; some free

Variety of Images Available: Large library and variety of formats

With more than 82 million stock images, Dreamstime is bound to have ideal image for your needs, including royalty-free photos of celebrities, landmarks and current events.

From the Dreamstime site, you can search for exclusive stock images or free content from the public domain. If you want to download paid stock images, you’ll need to purchase credits or a subscription plan. The subscription plans jump from $25 a month for five images to $197 a month for 750 images, which provides great value for individuals and businesses that have high-volume needs.

Dreamstime also offers a referral program, which allows you to earn money by recommending friends to the site.

Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.