Shutterstock is one of the best stock photo sites, but it still has a few flaws that might make you want to look for an alternative. We have thoroughly reviewed over 30 stock agencies and found the best option for every situation. The best Shutterstock alternative we recommend is Adobe Stock, which is better for graphic designers and on-demand purchases. For small businesses, we recommend Depositphotos as the best alternative. If you’re looking for something very similar to Shutterstock but with premium images, we recommend iStock. Finally, the best Shutterstock alternative for premium videos are Pond5, and Artgrid for unlimited downloads videos.
Things to consider
Unflexible on-demand buying options is where Shutterstock lags behind other stock photo sites.
Shutterstock sells premium images at Offset, which is separate from the main site. This way you can’t get an all-in-one plan.
Shutterstock’s licensing is reasonably broad, but the the legal coverage of the Standard license is quite low.
4K videos get expensive very fast, so getting an unlimited downloads plan can save you budget.
Adobe Stock is the best Shutterstock alternative you can get in every aspect. Its subscriptions are only slightly more expensive, while on-demand options are cheaper and a lot more flexible. Adobe Stock also offers unlimited legal coverage on the Standard license, while Shutterstock gives you only $10,000. We found that despite the fact that both offer Creative Cloud integration, Adobe Stock is better because it works more smoothly, is natively integrated, and is supported in more apps.
Another important selling point of stock images is free trials, and Adobe Stock gives you up to 40 free images, saving you $99 on the first month, compared to the 10 free images of the Shutterstock trial.
While Shutterstock is a typical stock agency, meaning it sells stock images and videos first, and all else comes second, Canva does the opposite. This online platform for graphic designers is built around an intuitive image editor that also delivers over 110 million stock photos directly in your library of assets. In contrast with other stock photo sites, Canva lets you use unlimited stock images for a fixed subscription fee of $9.99 per month, which makes it one of the best alternatives to Shutterstock for beginners and those on a tight budget.
Great for premium subscriptions
One of the best websites for royalty-free photos is iStock, formerly iStockphoto. It offers pricing options for individuals, small and large businesses, and corporations. Standard and premium images are separated so that you can choose between higher image quality and lower prices.Get iStock Start free trial
iStock is highly similar to Shutterstock, except its library contains half as many stock photos. But where iStock outshines Shutterstock are premium subscriptions that let you download premium photos at relatively low prices and the more flexible on-demand credits, similar to those found at Adobe Stock.
Depositphotos offers very similar subscriptions and image packs to Shutterstock, with the exception that it’s considerably cheaper. The biggest difference comes when you buy images on-demand, which is up to 3 times cheaper at Depositphotos, costing only $2.99 per image ($9.16/image at Shutterstock). However, Depositphotos comes with an even smaller legal coverage than Shutterstock ($5,000) and about 150 million fewer images.
Shutterstock licenses also excellent stock videos at decent prices, but if you’re serious about video editing, choosing a dedicated stock footage site, like Pond5, might be a better choice. Pond5 offers more stock videos than Shutterstock (31 million vs 25 million), at similar prices but, again, doesn’t limit you with video packs. Once you buy credits at Pond5 (you also get a bonus up to 25%), you can use them to buy any video, regardless of the resolution.
Best for graphic designers
Adobe Stock is the best alternative to Shutterstock, specifically for graphic designers and those who want to buy stock photos on-demand or want more diverse subscriptions.
Buying optionsGet started with 40 free images at Adobe Stock
Best all-in-one stock
Canva is a great budget alternative to Shutterstock, which gives you unlimited downloads of over 110 million stock photos for only $9.99/month in addition to the complete suite of tools.
Buying optionsGet started with 30 days free at Canva
Great for premium subscriptions
One of the best websites for royalty-free photos is iStock, formerly iStockphoto. It offers pricing options for individuals, small and large businesses, and corporations. Standard and premium images are separated so that you can choose between higher image quality and lower prices.
Buying optionsGet 10 free images at iStock
Best for bloggers and small businesses
Depositphotos is priced similarly to Shutterstock but has cheaper small subscription plans.
Buying optionsGet 10 free images at Depositphotos
Our pick: Adobe Stock
Best for graphic designers
The best stock photo site for graphic designers
Adobe Stock is an excellent stock photo site for graphic designers using Creative Cloud apps, like Photoshop or Illustrator. Because it is very affordable and comes with royalty-free licensing, it’s a convenient option for any buyer who needs high flexibility and low prices.Get Adobe Stock Start free trial
Number of images: 297+ million | Pricing: $0.26–$9.99/image | Free trial: Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)
- Superb image and video quality.
- Offers templates, 3D objects, and fonts.
- More than 1 million free images.
- Creative Cloud integration.
- Works with Photoshop, Illustrator, & others.
- More costly than some alternatives.
- No promo codes or coupons.
- Expensive premium content.
Adobe Stock is Adobe’s stock agency, which leverages it’s customer-base using Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere to deliver high-quality and unique stock assets. While it’s a relatively new agency (founded in 2015), Adobe Stock has a long tradition, since it’s the successor of Fotolia (founded in 2005), which Adobe acquired in 2015. Since then, Adobe Stock has grown into one of the stronger Shutterstock alternatives and our top choice for graphic designers.
Adobe Stock’s pricing is far simpler than Shutterstock’s despite being slightly more expensive. It consists of 8 subscription plans and credits, which come with credit packs.
Subscriptions, costing $29.99–$249.99/month ($0.26–$9.99/image), come in four sizes (3/10, 25, 40, and 750 monthly downloads) and two durations (monthly and annual). What we like most about Adobe Stock subscriptions is the versatility of the content (dubbed “assets”) you may download. You can download all standard assets, which include photos, vectors, illustrations, templates, 3D, and music tracks. Instead of standard assets, you may use subscription downloads for HD videos, which consume roughly 8 downloads.
For those who need even more flexibility, we recommend credits, which you can use to buy any asset at Adobe Stock. These also include the assets you cannot get with subscriptions, like premium images, 4K videos, and the Extended license. You can get credits with credit packs that come in sizes of 5 to 150 credits, costing $49.95–$1,200.00 ($8.00–$9.99/credit). Then, you can use the credits to download any asset, which cost anywhere from 1 credit for the standard images, up to 20 credits for 4K videos (check this table for full credits pricing).
The star of the Adobe Stock pricing is the free trial, which gives you the first month free of the 10, 25, or even 40 downloads plans, effectively saving you up to $99.99. This makes it the best free trial we tested. However, Adobe Stock never offers any coupons or promo codes; the only way to get a discount is with seasonal offers.
All Adobe Stock licenses a royalty-free but they differ in the pricing, the reproduction limit, and in the manner which they can be bought. There are the Standard, Enhanced, and Extended licenses. Before we get any further into the licenses, let us point out that Adobe Stock is one of the few agencies that provide unlimited indemnity for its content, as long as you used it with respect to the guidelines.
The Standard license ($0.26–$9.99) comes with every standard asset you download, which you can do with subscriptions and credits (and the free trial). It gives you unlimited web views, 500K copies or prints, and unlimited legal coverage. But you may not use it for resale or product where the asses have the primary value. The Enhanced license is very similar in the rights it gives you, with the exception of giving you unlimited reproduction. You get an Enhanced license with the premium assets, such as 4K videos and premium photos, which you can buy with credits only (costing $96.00–$119.88).
The Extended license serves the same purpose as the Extended licenses at all other agencies–it gives you the right to use the asset for resale and in products where the asset is the primary value. You can get it with credits and it costs $79.99. No license gives you the right to distribute the stand-alone file. To do this, you must get the copyright holder’s permission, which is usually not worth the hassle.
Adobe Stock offers customer support over live chat and forums, neither of which we were too happy with. The community forum rarely helps you find the answer, as it is mostly answered by amateurs and not Adobe employees.
On the other hand, the live chat can help answer your question but the experience is all but pleasant. First, you need to talk to the AI and explain your problem; however, if you go in-depth, it won’t understand you. So, it’s best to be quite vague and reply with something like “I need help with buying.”, otherwise, it won’t understand you and will keep asking to rephrase your question.
When you successfully get past the AI, you will be quickly connected with an employee. However, first, you will get a general Adobe assistant, who, in our experience, knew a lot less than we did. If they cannot answer your question, you will be reconnected for the second time to the Adobe Stock expert. In our experience, this person was knowledgeable, but neither of them was kind and their language skill was lacking, thus making the conversation more difficult.
Overall, the Adobe Stock customer support will resolve your question, but the experience might not be pleasant or speedy.
Adobe Stock is packed with features that are going to make your workflow easier and more enjoyable. Because we use Creative Cloud ourselves to create graphics for Photutorial as well as for personal life, we’re very comfortable recommending it to you as well.
The most important feature of Adobe Stock is its integration into the Creative Cloud, which is Adobe’s suite of apps. This integration allows you to access all Adobe Stock assets without leaving apps, which is very useful if you want to test an image or a video before purchasing it. In fact, you may use as many watermarked assets as you want and pay only for those that you use in the final version of your project (we also explained how it works).
On top of the integration, everyone can download free files from the free collection of 1+ million assets.
10 Best Shutterstock Alternatives
- Adobe Stock – Overall best Shutterstock alternative
- iStock – Best alternative for subscriptions
- Depositphotos – Best alternative for bloggers
- Canva – Best alternative for unlimited downloads
- Getty Images – Best alternative for editorial content
- Offset (by Shutterstock) – Best alternative for premium stock photos
- Unsplash – Best free alternative
- CanStockPhoto – The cheapest alternative
- Dreamstime – Cheapest alternative for extended licenses
- Pond5 – Best alternative for stock videos
Summary: Best Shutterstock Alternatives
- Adobe Stock
- Getty Images
- Offset (by Shutterstock)
Why choose a Shutterstock alternative?
Shutterstock is one of the best stock photo sites according to our in-depth research. However, it’s not the best fit for every customer. As we pointed out, Shutterstock’s on-demand options lack flexibility and we’re also not too fond of the mixed subscription.
By analyzing hundreds of Shutterstock reviews, we identified 4 reasons why one would choose a Shutterstock alternative.
1. Too expensive.
While Shutterstock is not a costly stock photo site, small businesses or individuals can not afford it. For those on a limited budget, we recommend Canva.
It’s an all-in-one tool, meaning you get a powerful graphic editor and unlimited downloads of stock photos. And all that costs only $9.99/month, which is affordable for anyone.
2. Inflexible on-demand plans.
Shutterstock offers image and video packs separately. Moreover, the Standard and Extended licenses are sold separately. By counting also the music plans, you have 5 separate on-demand plans.
3. Lacking features.
Shutterstock is a feature-rich stock photo site, but most of them are basic and not useful for advanced users. You can use the Shutterstock Editor and various converters, to name a few.
Customers who edit the images they download prefer more integrations. For that reason, they choose Adobe Stock with the integration into Creative Cloud of Canva’s suite of tools.
Note: Don’t forget that Shutterstock offers a free plugin for Creative Cloud integration.
4. Need an additional source of photos.
Not everyone who seeks Shutterstock alternatives is dissatisfied with it. Some publishers, especially those with high demand for stock photos, use multiple sources.
According to our research, the most popular combination of stock photo sites includes Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Stock, Getty Images, Depositphotos, and Dreamstime. These are, unsurprisingly, the biggest stock photo agencies.
Frequently asked questions
Is there a better alternative to Shutterstock?
Adobe Stock is the best alternative to Shutterstock if you use Creative Cloud tools or if you need more flexible on-demand stock images. Also, choose Adobe Stock over Shutterstock if you need a larger free trial with 40 instead of 10 free stock images.
What is a free alternative to Shutterstock?
The best free Shutterstock alternative is Unsplash with almost 4 million excellent stock photos. Other excellent free Shutterstock alternatives include Pixabay, Pexels, and PikWizard.
To identify the best Shutterstock alternatives, 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 the crucial factor 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, and impressions they allow and their indemnity value.
- Image number: 15% of the score. The number of images is essential when rating stock photo sites because when you need thousands of images, you can quickly run out of free photos. 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.