The Bottom Line
Alamy has a vast collection of stock images and videos, but the quality is mediocre, and prices are inexplicably high compared to competitors. Additionally, licensing terms and prices are complicated, and the company does not offer license indemnity. Customer support is relatively quick, but some customers have reported longer wait times.
- Diverse licensing
- Save 30% with image packs
- Expensive and low-quality Ultimate Collection
- No indemnity
- Complicate licensing
Who is Alamy Best for?
Although Alamy offers high-quality stock photos, its prices and licensing aren’t a good option for most customers. First, it’s considerably more expensive than its competitors, mainly because there are no subscriptions. The ready-made licenses are quite narrow and applicable to only one project, yet still expensive. If you want to use any image for multiple projects, you need to get a royalty-free license that costs up to $640.
Best Alamy Alternatives
|Best for||Best for 360 images||Best overall||Best for Graphic Designers||Best for Subscriptions|
|Images||270 million||392 million||280 million||140 million|
|Free trial||No||Yes (10 images)||Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)||Yes (10 images)|
|Review||(current article)||Shutterstock review||Adobe Stock review||iStock review|
Pricing & Licensing
Alamy sells images on-demand only, meaning you buy each image individually. You can also buy image packs to save money, but it’s still more expensive than competing stock photo sites offering subscriptions.
Alamy licenses images in two ways: based on the use (cheaper) and the image (more expensive). If you license an image for a specific use, that image cannot be repurposed elsewhere because you would need to buy a new license. However, royalty-free licenses based on images are more expensive, you may use that image in multiple projects.
You can buy each license separately, which is the more expensive option:
|Personal use||$19.99||Personal prints, cards, gifts (non-commercial use only).|
|Presentation or newsletters||$19.99||Presentations, talks, newsletters.|
|Website||$49.99||A single website, social media, blog, app.|
|Magazines and books||$69.99||A single magazine or book, inside use, 2,500 worldwide reprints.|
|Marketing package||$199.99||A single marketing campaign worldwide (not for advertising).|
Image packs are designed for those who need at least 5 images from Alamy, thus allowing them to save. The larger pack you buy, the lower the price per image. Thus, you should always pick the largest pack that suits your needs.
|Pack size||Personal use||Presentation or newsletters||Website||Marketing package|
|5 pack||$83.99 ($16.80/image)||$83.99 ($16.80/image)||$211.99 ($42.40/image)||$599.99 ($119.99/image)|
|10 pack||$148.99 ($14.90/image)||$148.99 ($14.90/image)||$373.99 ($37.40/image)||$1,119.99 (119.99/image)|
|25 pack||$348.99 ($13.96/image)||$348.99 ($13.96/image)||$873.99 |
Do you really save 70% with image packs?
Alamy states on its image packs page that you save up to 70% when you buy an image pack, referenced under the Marketing package. But if you check closely, you’ll see that the 70% savings are based on the Ultimate Collection pricing, not the pricing of “standard” images.
Ultimate Collection pricing
We think that Alamy’s Ultimate Collection is a sham. Most images in that category are underwhelming and low-quality and definitely not worth the extra cost.
As per some of Alamy’s customers, these hand-selected images are often mistagged, meaning that you do not get the images of what you were looking for.
To quote Chexy, an Alamy photographer of 15+ years who uploaded over 26,000 images, “When I search “Banff National Park” and under Creative, filter to the Ultimate collection, only 10 underwhelming images appear, 1 of them is supposedly of a lake in the UK (definitely not Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada). Another 2 are not Banff National Park either but rather, Yoho National Park in British Columbia. A search for “Jasper National Park” Ultimate collection, brings up only 1 image and it is surprise, surprise, not actually in Jasper National Park. This collection has been released before it is fit for use and keyword spamming is being rewarded. Your customers and contributors deserve better.“
Here’s how much these images cost:
- Personal use: $39.99
- Presentation or newsletters: $39.99
- Website: $99.99
- Magazines and books: $139.99
- Marketing package: $399.99
|Website or social media site||$399.99||A single website or blog for 3 months or social media for 3 months.|
|VR or game apps||$479.99||A single mobile game app, corporate promotional, commercial VR.|
|Digital publishing||$524.99||A single educational or retail publishing product for 10 years.|
|TV program||$599.99||A single TV program and all media, forever.|
|Marketing package||$639.99||A single marketing campaign (worldwide, not advertising).|
Instead of buying images for a single project, you can use them in multiple projects when you buy real royalty-free image licenses. The price depends on their size.
Alamy offers bespoke licenses completely tailored to your needs. Whether you’re a smaller business owner looking for a few stock images a year or a well-established company, Alamy is will help you.
Compared to a royalty-free license, a rights-managed license lets you use an image only for a certain project, within a certain time frame, and only in a certain area. Alamy has a very handy tool to select these parameters, which also govern the price. The rights-managed license can cost from a few hundred dollars to $16k+, like in the example below.
Alamy accepts all major credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, American Express), PayPal, and Google Pay, so you won’t have any problems finding the right payment option for yourself. All payments are safe and quickly processed, allowing you to instantly start using the purchased images.
Below is a screenshot of the Alamy payment dialogue.
Image search tools
Alamy has a fantastic image search tool, that was so effective that Alamy even applied it for a patent. It is very easy to use and the implementation of various parameters makes finding the perfect image a simple task.
With the selection of proper search filters, you can narrow down your search and find exactly the image you’re looking for. You can search by:
- People: search by the number of people in an image, the age of the people, or even by their ethnicity.
- Location: USA, UK, Australia, and Europe.
- Image: select the orientation you want, pick the style, or enter the minimum file size.
- Viewpoint: pick the angle that suits your needs. You can choose between front, side, rear, or profile.
- Date: find images taken within specific time frames or search for the most recently added content.
Advanced search filter
Alamy’s advanced search filter is a great tool if you want to search for a particular collection or photographer or do a more detailed search. You can search by contributor name, or terms such as “all words”, “phrases”, “at least one of the words”, or “without the words”.
Related reading: Alamy Search Tools on Alamy Blog
Lightboxes let you store images that you find and like when you’re searching, saving them for later, should you decide to purchase them.
To create a Lightbox, make sure you’re registered first. You can do this easily and quickly by clicking the “Sign Up” button, and popping in your details.
Once you’re logged in to your account, go to the homepage and select “My Alamy” in the top right corner and click “Lightbox” from the drop-down menu. Select “Add a Lightbox”, give it a name, and description (optional). Click “Save” and you’re all set to start adding images to your Lightbox.
To start adding content to your Lightbox, go to the homepage, and enter your search term in the search bar. There are 2 ways to add images from the search results page.
Option 1. When you find an image that you like, hover the mouse over it and a set of 4 icons will very conveniently pop up. Click on the left-most icon.
Once you click the icon, a box will appear at the bottom of the screen, where you can select which Lightbox you want to add an image to.
Alamy promises that an icon changes once the image is added to a Lightbox to let you know that the task has been completed. However, no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t make it work. Although the image was saved to my Lightbox, the icon didn’t change. This is not a huge issue since you get a confirmation when your image is saved to your Lightbox. It is probably only a temporary bug.
Option 2. When you find an image that you like, you can click on it and you will land on the image page. Next, you can click on the “Add to Lightbox” option under the image.
Once again, I couldn’t make the icon change work. Although not a deal-breaker, it would be nice to have. You can also learn more about Lightboxes in the Alamy vlog:
Is Alamy right for you?
Alamy’s licensing is meant to be simplified, but it instead adds another level of complexity, because you also need to decide which license to buy. In addition, because Alamy doesn’t license stock images with subscriptions, it’s considerably more expensive than its alternatives, such as Adobe Stock or iStock. As a result, Alamy is not the best choice for smaller businesses and individuals on a limited budget, while large companies with more budget will benefit from better premium alternatives, such as GettyImages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alamy safe?
Alamy is a safe and reputable company. I’ve worked with them for years without any problems. You might find some poor reviews on sites such as TrustPilot, but every brand or service has negative reviews, due to the customers not reading the terms and conditions carefully.
How much does Alamy cost?
Alamy’s photos are available on-demand only, with the prices starting as low as $6.96 per download. The price depends on the License and Image resolution.
Is Alamy stock photo exclusive?
Alamy is a non-exclusive agency, meaning that you can sell images on their website as well as on other non-exclusive sites. Make sure you take advantage of that to get the most out of your work.
Is Alamy royalty-free?
Alamy also offers a Royalty-Free license, which means you pay a one-off fee to use the image with no restrictions on how you use it or how long you use it. Royalty-free images can also be used across multiple projects, forever.
Can I use Alamy’s photos?
You can use Alamy photos, but only if either of these three conditions is met:
1. If it has a creative commons license that allows it to be shared for free you will still need to insert a credit line that details the contributing party’s information. For example © Contributor’s name / Alamy Stock Photo
2. You can share an image within Alamy. On the image page, you’ll find our ‘share’ button on the right-hand side, and from here you can select which social media channel you’d like to share the image on. The image will be shared equipped with a watermark, credit line, and link back to the image page.
3. If you don’t want to share a watermarked image or assign a credit line to the image, your best option is to buy the image under a license that enables the use of the image online.
Over the years, we have reviewed Alamy several times (usually every couple of months). It seems that we reduce Alamy’s rating every time we test it. The question is: Is Alamy getting worse, or are we getting more stringent?
To review Alamy accurately, we took a holistic view of 31 stock photo agencies that incorporated image number, quality, variety, prices and pricing options, licensing terms, features, and customer support.
- Image quality & variety: 20% of the score. We browsed each stock photo site for over 50 search terms and analyzed the resulting image quality and variety. Both were scored qualitatively based on our expertise and experience. The quality check comprised technical quality, including exposure, sharpness, grain, saturation, color temperature, and added value. The variety check was primarily focused on checking what percentage of images came from the same photo shoot.
- Stock photo prices and pricing options: 20% of the score. Price is crucial in choosing stock photos, and having various options helps customers find the best plans. We checked whether the stock photo agency offers subscriptions, on-demand options, and which sizes. In addition, having a free trial is a bonus as it allows customers to get an insight into what they can expect. Finally, we considered the minimum, median, and maximum price per image and the price per extended license image.
- Licensing terms: 20% of the score. We read and took notes on every stock image license. We compared them based on how many copies, reprints, impressions they allow, and indemnity value.
- Image number: 15% of the score. The number of images is essential when rating stock photo sites because you can quickly run out of free photos when you need thousands of images. We checked each stock photo site’s database and took notes on the number of images.
- Additional features: 15% of the score. Additional features are meant to simplify or enhance a customer’s workflow. We reviewed and tested all the additional features where possible. Since some are limited to enterprises, or we couldn’t get in touch with the support team, we searched for customers with access to the additional features and asked for their opinion.
- Customer support: 10% of the score. Crucially, when testing customer support, we didn’t tell them who we were, so we got treated like every other customer. We took notes of the response times, contact options (live chat, email, and telephone), and the usefulness and kindness of the support teams.
Within each category, we also considered several characteristics, the number of images per most popular searches, technical quality, and added value. We also looked at the variety of pricing plans, minimum, median, and maximum image prices, and free trial terms. Finally, we evaluated Alamy’s customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.
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