By Ana Mireles on | No Comments
Have you ever needed a picture for a project, website, or social media post but didn't have the time, equipment, or skills to take one yourself? Well, that's where stock photos come in handy!
Stock photos are high-quality, professional photographs that are already taken and ready to be licensed for use by individuals, businesses, or organizations. They cover a wide range of subjects and are perfect for all kinds of creative projects.
In this article, I've gathered the top stock photography websites to help you find the perfect photos for your project or upload your images to sell. I've provided an overview of how each website works for BOTH BUYERS AND SELLERS, so you can easily find the right one for your needs.
So, whether you're a photographer looking to sell your work OR a buyer looking for high-quality images, you'll find everything you need to know in this roundup.
Before I dive into our list, let’s go over some key points to consider before purchasing photos from or offering photos for sale on a stock photography website:
If you're in the market for stock images, there are many websites to choose from, both paid and free. However, while cost is an important factor, it's not the only one.
Before downloading and using images from a stock photography website, there are a few other things you should take into account. Here are some key factors to consider:
Before you start selling your images on a stock photography website, it's essential to understand the terms and conditions of each site. This way, you'll know the advantages and disadvantages of working with each one and can make an informed decision.
Remember that once you upload your images, you are agreeing to the website's terms and conditions, so it's crucial to do your research before committing. Here are some key considerations:
Without further ado, here are my top ten stock photography websites:
Shutterstock is one of the biggest and most well-known stock photography websites that facilitates the buying and selling of a vast range of creative assets, including images, videos, music, and 3D models. In addition, they offer users some useful editing tools, such as background removers.
As one of the most prominent stock photography websites, Shutterstock hosts more than one billion images contributed by over one million artists worldwide.
Shutterstock's AI capabilities allow users to access curated collections of high-quality images, with the Predictive Design Assistant being a standout feature that suggests media based on its potential performance on social media.
If you're interested in accessing Shutterstock's creative resources, you can purchase a subscription or buy on-demand packages. They also offer a free trial that includes ten free image downloads and one free vector every week.
To become a contributor, you can submit your content, and every image goes through a review process before it's accepted or rejected. Anyone can contribute, regardless of their background or career trajectory.
Once your work is accepted, you will earn money for each download. However, Shutterstock has a minimum payout threshold that must be met before you can cash out, so be sure to review their disbursement policies before getting started.
With over 224 million assets, Depositphotos is a major player in the stock photography arena, offering a vast range of images, videos, music, special effects, and vectors.
What sets Depositphotos apart from other stock photography websites is its advanced search tools. You can filter any photo by various criteria, such as orientation, point of view, origin, location, color, season, and time of day, and even perform a reverse image search.
For portraits, you can filter by the number of people, type of portraiture, age, ethnicity, and more. Once you find an image you like, you can explore more images of the same model or photoshoot.
Many images can be downloaded for free if you provide attribution to the creator. Otherwise, you can choose a subscription or buy on-demand.
Becoming a contributor is straightforward - all you need to do is submit high-quality content, and you'll earn money every time someone downloads one of your images. Additionally, as users download your content, you can level up, which results in a higher commission.
However, it's worth noting that downloads made by subscription-based users only count as one-third of a non-subscription-based download, which is a disadvantage for contributors.
Unsplash provides free high-resolution photos and has a large and active community of photographers and creatives who contribute to it. In addition to photos, it also offers stock footage, illustrations, and vector graphics.
Since the acquisition by Getty Images in 2021, Unsplash has continued to offer free downloads but has also added a paid subscription plan that provides additional features such as access to more exclusive content and advanced search capabilities. Unfortunately, you can’t filter the free images from the paid ones - you’ll get both mixed within your search results.
One unique feature of Unsplash is its Collections. Collections are curated groups of images based on specific themes, moods, or topics. These collections are created by Unsplash staff or by members of the community, and they provide an easy way to find photos that match a particular style or subject matter.
Another interesting aspect of Unsplash is its API, which allows developers to access the site's vast library of images and integrate them into their own applications. This has led to a number of creative uses of Unsplash images, such as incorporating them into social media posts or using them as backgrounds for web and mobile applications.
Overall, Unsplash remains a popular choice for designers, bloggers, and other creatives who are looking for high-quality, free images to use in their projects.
Unsplash also works directly with brands. And by doing this, they create paid opportunities for contributors by allowing them to work together directly with those brands. They also offer advertising spaces that show up on the search results feed.
In 2019, Fotolia closed down its website after successfully transitioning its library and user accounts to Adobe Stock. Since then, Adobe Stock has continued to grow and now boasts over 200 million assets including photographs, generative AI images, vectors, HD videos, 3D assets, design templates, and MOGRT files for use in Adobe Premier Pro.
While natively integrated into Adobe's other Creative Cloud apps, Adobe Stock is also a stand-alone service. You can get a subscription plan or buy pre-paid credits to download single assets, and different types of licensing are available for purchase. They also offer a free 30-day trial that includes ten downloads.
Contributors can offer their work and receive a 33% royalty on all sales. One of the most significant advantages of Adobe Stock is exposure since many creators worldwide use Adobe apps like Photoshop and Lightroom for their work.
A standout feature allows contributors to streamline their workflow by importing albums directly from their Lightroom Library. They can also take advantage of Adobe Stock's AI keyword tool to help tag images to increase visibility in search results - the AI keyword tool uses machine learning to analyze the visual content of an image and suggest relevant keywords.
Additionally, Adobe Stock offers a dedicated contributor portal that enables contributors to track sales and optimize their portfolios.
iStock is Getty Images' microstock photography website, which offers a range of digital assets, including photographs, illustrations, videos, clip art, and audio. Originally established in 2000 as iStockphoto, it was subsequently acquired by Getty Images in 2006 and rebranded as iStock in 2013.
One of the unique features of iStock is that many of its contributors offer exclusive content that cannot be found on any other stock photo websites. This exclusive content is available in the Signature Collection, while the Essential Collection offers more affordable assets but without exclusivity.
Users can purchase a subscription plan or credit packs based on their budget and needs, and they can select the appropriate license type for their intended use. Moreover, iStock provides free images from the Signature collection with the same licensing rights as paid downloads, including legal protection worth $10,000.
Aspiring contributors must submit a sample of their work to iStock for review. If accepted, they have the option to offer their content as part of the Exclusive Collection, which offers a higher percentage payout for every download.
Jumpstory is one of the most affordable quality stock photography websites that offers both photos and videos. They do not allow AI-generated content and clearly state this on their website. While they don't sell credits for single downloads, their subscription plans start at $20 for unlimited use.
Jumpstory offers a single International Standard License, and users benefit from global insurance coverage in the event of any legal issues. Additionally, the website can be integrated into popular website builders like Wix or WordPress, streamlining the workflow for users who run websites on those platforms.
The AI Text Match feature is a valuable tool that saves time by allowing users to find images related to their copy with the help of AI. And for those who prefer a human touch, a Personal Jumpstory Assistant is an option. Users can describe the type of image they need, and the assistant will respond within 24 hours.
Jumpstory also provides a simple photo editor and a background removal tool, allowing users to do all the necessary prep work on the website before downloading the image as needed.
It's worth noting that Jumpstory specializes in lifestyle imagery, as stated on their website disclaimer. If you're looking for niche photos or breaking news-type images, Jumpstory may not be the ideal choice.
EyeEm is a stock photography website with premium content and a price tag to match. For instance, a 5 photo pack costs a staggering $1,570, which is equivalent to $314 per photo.
In addition to photo packs, EyeEm also provides subscription plans and customized deals. Although the content on the website is high-end, it is not exclusive.
EyeEm is also a production company, and their team can assist you in creating unique content anywhere in the world.
Anyone can become a contributor - just keep in mind they have VERY HIGH standards. Once your content is accepted, you can also compete in their Missions which are assignments for photographers to submit their best shots based on specific themes or topics. They offer opportunities to showcase creativity, earn prize money, and gain exposure through the EyeEm platform, including partnerships with businesses and brands.
Photographers can keep in touch and follow each other on EyeEm's online community, and contributors are, of course, paid for every download.
Pixabay is a free stock photo website that offers a wide variety of images, videos, GIFs, vectors, illustrations, music, and sound effects under a simple license. However, much of its content can also be found on other stock sites like Pexels and Unsplash. Users CAN donate when downloading content, but it's strictly voluntary.
In addition to their search engine, you can browse curated collections of content put together by their editors or check out automatically grouped content based on popular searches.
As you type in the search bar, Pixabay will suggest relevant keywords. Once you receive search results, their algorithm will suggest related keywords to help you explore further. You can also refine your search results by orientation, size, color, and publish date.
Some images even include metadata, which is helpful for learning more about photography and how to achieve specific results. For example, users can click on a camera model and browse other images shot with the same type.
Pixabay also hosts contests and challenges that offer the opportunity to win prizes and get featured in their curated collections.
Pexels is another FREE stock photo and video website that offers high-quality content with minimal advertising.
Their search bar allows you to find the content you need by typing in keywords and will suggest popular searches as you type. You can refine your search by filtering for orientation, size, and hex code. And on the home page, you can immediately see and explore trending topics.
You can download as many assets as you want for free without an account, in pre-set sizes, or with custom dimensions. However, creating an account allows you to save favorite photos and track past downloads, among other benefits.
To make it even easier for users, Pexels provides a plugin for platforms such as Photoshop, Chrome, and WordPress, allowing easy exploration and use of assets for projects.
You can participate as a contributor or browse other contributors to find their newest and best content to download. Pexels also offers a leaderboard and regularly hosts challenges to motivate contributors and offer more visibility.
Burst is a free online photo stock website powered by Shopify. Although it is associated with Shopify, having a Shopify account or owning an e-commerce website to use Burst is completely optional.
Since Shopify is focused on helping businesses build e-commerce websites, offering a photo stock tool through Burst makes perfect sense for their customers as it provides a unique search category where you can browse images based on business ideas. There are also themed collections that make sense for entrepreneurs, such as jewelry or retail.
You certainly don't need to use any of these filters if they don’t fit your needs. You can just use their regular search bar to browse the latest uploads, staff favorites, and top downloads.
Once you find a photo you love, you can download it in low or high resolution. And if you have a Shopify store, you can skip the download and use the image directly on your website.
You can become a Burst contributor and offer your images for download, but because it's a free website, you WON'T get paid.
One nice benefit of being a contributor is a personal profile page which includes a "visit website" and a "hire photographer" button. Considering Burst has over 3 million monthly visitors, it may help land some paying gigs.
Whether you're a professional photographer looking to sell your work or a designer in need of high-quality images for your projects, there is a stock photography site that can meet your needs.
From affordable and easy-to-use platforms like Pexels and Jumpstory to the more premium options like Shutterstock and EyeEm, the possibilities are endless. So, take some time to explore these options and find the best site for you.
Do you have any questions or comments about our 10 Best Stock Photography Websites, or share any others we haven't included? Leave us a comment below - We would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE this post using the social sharing buttons (We really appreciate it)!
Ana Mireles is a Mexican photographer and researcher with a passion for writing and teaching. She’s collaborated in artistic and cultural projects in Mexico, Italy, and the Netherlands.