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Best Stock Image Subscriptions 2022

Matic BrozUpdated May 19, 2022

After extensively testing over 30 stock photo websites over 3 years, we chose iStock as the best stock image subscription site for most people. It has the lowest prices ($0.22/image), premium subscriptions guarantee you get premium stock images cheaper than anywhere else, and you get a 30-day free trial for 10 stock images.

Some of the best alternatives include Depositphotos, Adobe Stock, and Shutterstock. For unlimited downloads, we recommend Canva.

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We will help you find the best stock image subscriptions based on your needs.

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Stock photo siteNumber of photosRatingSubscription priceFree trial
iStock
Best for Commercial Use
140 million4.8/5.0$29–$199/month
($0.22–$4.00/image)
Yes (10 images)Learn more
Depositphotos
Best for Bloggers
186 million4.8/5.0$25–$199/month
($0.22–$1.44/image)
NoLearn more
Adobe Stock
Best for Designers
295 million5.0/5.0$29–$249/month
($0.26–$9.99/image)
Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)Learn more
Shutterstock
Best Overall
384 million5.0/5.0$25–$249/month
($0.22–$4.90/image)
Yes (10 images)Learn more
Canva
Best for Unlimited Downloads
100+ million4.0/5.0$9.99-$30/monthYes (30 days)Learn more
Dreamstime
Cheapest Extended License
185 million3.9/5.0$25–$219/month
($0.22–$5.00/image)
Yes (15 watermarked images)Learn more

6 Best Stock Image Subscriptions for 2022

  1. iStock – Best for Commercial Use
  2. Depositphotos – Best for Bloggers
  3. Adobe Stock – Best for Graphic Designers
  4. Shutterstock – Best overall
  5. Canva – Best Unlimited Downloads
  6. Dreamstime – The Cheapest Extended Licenses

Best for Commercial Use

iStock

4.8

rating 4.5

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
140+ million$0.22-$9.90/imageYes (10 images)

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on iStock’s website

Why We Picked It

iStock isn’t the cheapest by default, but you can get up to a 30% discount with coupons, thus giving you the lowest prices in the industry. In all honesty, there are some subscriptions that cost roughly the same (Dreamstime, StockPhotoSecrets, Bigstock), but I don’t recommend those. iStock offers standard images (“Essentials”) and premium (“Signature”) with subscription plans, thus resulting in a lower price per image.

Read more: iStock review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 140+ million images.
  • The signature collection is of superb quality.
  • Competitive prices.
  • 10 images with the free trial.

Cons

  • Signature images are a lot more expensive.
  • The lowest prices are available only with coupons.
Additional information
  • Price: $0.22 to $9.90.
  • Subscriptions: $0.22 to $4.00/Essential image; $0.44 to $9.90/Signature image. Subscriptions are divided into Basic (for Essential images) and Premium (Signature images). Both come in four sizes (10, 25, 50, and 750 monthly downloads) and are available with month-to-month and annual plans.
  • On-demand: $8.00 to $12.00/image. iStock offers ten credit packs (1 to 300 credits) that you can use to buy photos, vectors, illustrations, and videos at the following prices.
  • Royalty-free license: $0.22 to $12.00/image. Unlimited web distribution, 500,000 copies or prints, and a $10,000 legal guarantee.
  • Extended license: $79.99. Unlimited web distribution, unlimited copies or prints, $250,000 legal guarantee.
  • Free trial: 10 free stock images with the 30-day free trial.
  • Coupon code: You can get up to a 20% discount with iStock coupons.

Best for Bloggers

Depositphotos

4.8

rating 4.5

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
224 million$0.22-$14.00/imageNo

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on Depositphotos’ website

Why We Picked It

Depositphotos is an RF microstock photo agency based in Florida. Its collection of images contains 189 million files of high-quality photos, vectors, videos, and illustrations. Since it offers incredible e-commerce stock images, it’s the favorite of numerous bloggers and businesses.

Read more: Depositphotos review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 224+ million images
  • Good image quality
  • No daily limit
  • Reverse image search
  • Great customer support (phone, live chat and email)
  • A collection of free images 

Cons

  • No free trial
  • No custom packs – only available for enterprises
Additional information
  • Subscriptions ($0.22/image) are either monthly or annual (14% cheaper) with 30, 75, 150, and 750 monthly downloads. You get the best price ($0.22/image) by choosing the largest plan for a full year. But you can use my 15% promo code for Depositphotos and pay only $0.197/photo.
  • On-demand plans ($2.99/image) are available in sizes of 3, 10, 25, and 100 images. You can choose between a standard license and an extended license. To get the best price, choose the 100 image plan for $2.99/image. In contrast, the smallest 3 images cost $14.00/image.
  • Extended license ($63.96) is available with on-demand packs only, costing $63.96–$89.00/image, based on pack size. Thus, the best investment of your money is buying a 100-image plan, compared to buying 25 images four times.
  • Free trial is not available at Depositphotos; at first sight. To get Depositphotos’ free trial, sign up and wait a couple of hours to get an invitation to a 7-day free trial of 10 photos via email.
  • Free photos is a collection of 70K free files similar to what Adobe Stock offers. Furthermore, Depositphotos lets you download watermarked images, giving you a chance to test the image in your design or project before buying it.

Best for Graphic Designers

Adobe Stock

5.0

rating 5-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
297+ million$0.26-$9.99/imageYes (10, 25, or 40 images)

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on Adobe Stock’s website

Why We Picked It

Adobe Stock is the best value stock image subscription for many reasons. First, you can choose between six different subscription plans–three monthly and three annual plans, which come in sizes of 10, 25, 40, and 750 monthly downloads. The subscriptions cover standard images, templates, audio, vectors, and even videos, but not premium images. Every subscription plan also supports Creative Cloud integration, meaning you can view the entire image library directly in Adobe apps. Finally, you get 10, 25, or 40 free downloads with the free trial.

Read more: Adobe Stock review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent image quality.
  • Subscriptions include images, vectors, templates, and audio.
  • Over 1 million free images.
  • Integrated into Creative Cloud (works with all Adobe apps).
  • The largest free trial (up to 40 images).

Cons

  • No subscription for premium images and videos.
  • No promo codes or coupons.
Additional information
  • Price: $0.26 to $9.99/standard image.
  • Subscriptions: $0.26 to $9.99/image. Subscriptions are available on a monthly (more expensive) or annual basis and come in four sizes (3 or 10, 25, 40, and 750 monthly downloads). With subscriptions, you get access to standard images, templates, 3D elements, and music tracks.
  • On-demand: $8.00 to $9.99/image. Using credits, you can get premium images, which are not available with subscriptions. They cost $96.00 to $119.88.
  • Royalty-free license: $0.26 to $9.99/standard image. Unlimited web views, 500,000 copies or views, up to $10,000 in legal indemnification. Adobe’s royalty-free (dubbed “Standard”) license applies to standard assets.
  • Enhanced license: $96.00 to $119.88/image. Everything royalty-free license has + unlimited copies or views. Adobe’s Enhanced license applies to premium assets.
  • Extended license: $79.99/image. Everything the Enhanced license has + unlimited merchandise.
  • Free trial: 10 or 40 standard images for 30 days. Adobe Stock’s free trial gives you the most free downloads of any stock photo free trial.
  • Coupon code: Adobe Stock never offers any coupon codes.
  • Free collection: You can also download free files from the free collection of 1+ million assets.
  • Additional features: Integration into the Creative Cloud.

Best Overall

Shutterstock

5.0

rating 5-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
384+ million$0.22-$14.50/imageYes (10 images)

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on Shutterstock’s website

Why We Picked It

Shutterstock is the largest stock photo agency in the world and also the most popular one. But Shutterstock has been losing popularity in favor of Adobe Stock, according to research. Regardless, Shutterstock remains a widely popular choice with over 400 million stock images and other assets. Unlike Adobe, Shutterstock doesn’t offer any additional features along with its subscription plans.

Read more: Shutterstock review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Over 400 million images.
  • 10 free images with the trial.
  • Great image quality.

Cons

  • Misleading free trial terms.
  • Narrowly focused subscriptions.
Additional information
  • Price: $0.22 to $14.50/image.
  • Subscriptions: $0.22 to $4.90/image. Subscriptions are available in four sizes (10, 50, 350, and 750 monthly downloads) and with three payment options (monthly, yearly, and yearly upfront).
  • On-demand: $9.16 to $14.50/image. On-demand packs come in three sizes (2, 5, and 25 images). Enhanced license images come in the same sizes but cost $67.96 to $99.50/image.
  • Royalty-free license: $0.22 to $14.50/image. Unlimited web distribution, up to 500,000 prints or copies, and up to $10,000 in legal indemnification. Learn more.
  • Enhanced license: $67.96 to $99.50/image. Unlimited web distribution, unlimited prints or copies, and up to $250,000 in legal indemnification.
  • Free trial: Any 10 images during 30 days. Be careful, though, because you must cancel the trial 4 days in advance.
  • Coupon code: 25%. Using the 25% coupon code, you get royalty-free images for $0.165. Learn more.

Best for Unlimited Downloads

Canva

4.0

rating 4-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
100+ million$9.99-$30/monthYes (30 days)

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on Canva’s website

Why We Picked It

Canva is an impressive online graphic design platform suitable for users with any level of experience in design, graphic creation, visualization, and creating attractive social media posts. For users who need more, Canva Pro costs only $9.99/month.

Read more: Canva review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Free trial
  • Inexpensive subscription
  • Intuitive and super easy-to-use
  • Huge built-in stock photo library
  • Prompts team-work

Cons

  • Bad at photo editing
  • No one-time purchase option
  • Can’t use it offline
  • Lacks advanced design options
Additional information
  • Price: $0.00 for Free; $9.99/month for Pro; $30/month for Enterprise.
  • Subscriptions: $9.99–$30.00/month. Canva’s stock photo library is integrated into its editor, so the only way to get access to the images, you need to buy a full subscription.
  • License: Canva offers multiple licenses, based on the source of images. Fors its Pro content, a form of a royalty-free license applies, which gives you a perpetual, non-exclusive and non-transferable, worldwide right to use the content.
  • Free trial: There’s a 30-day free trial for the entire Canva suite (tools + photos).
  • Coupon code: /
  • Additional features: The entire Canva stock photo library is integrated into all of its tools.

The Cheapest Extended Licenses

Dreamstime

3.9

rating 4-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Number of imagesPrice per imageFree trial
185 million$0.225-$51.78/imageYes (watermarked only)

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on Dreamstime’s website

Why We Picked It

Dreamstime is one of the cheapest sites, with prices starting at $0.158/photo. The lowest prices are bound to this link, which brings a 30% discount. Since it was founded in 2000, Dreamstime has built a fair reputation for providing the cheapest stock images. This stock photo agency offers an extensive collection of subscription and on-demand plans, so choosing the right one might be tricky. Let me help you.

Read more: Dreamstime review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Cheap stock images with a 30% discount.
  • The cheapest extended license.
  • Extended licenses with subscriptions.

Cons

  • Often overedited images.
  • Poor variety.
  • Free trial images are watermarked.
Additional information
  • Subscription plans ($0.158/image) are available in six different sizes: 5, 10, 15, 25, 100, and 750 monthly downloads. By prepaying for the entire year, you get a 23% discount. I partnered with Dreamstime to give you an additional 30% discount connected to a link. This link allows you to get the best stock photo prices possible. With the largest plan, you will get stock photos for as low as $0.158/photo.
  • Credit packs ($8.00/image) come in ten different credit sizes, that you can use to buy images. However, the pricing of images depends on the image level. The higher the image level, the more credits it costs. To determine which level the image falls into, click on each image and check manually. Furthermore, levels change every day because they depend on image popularity and age. The credit prices range from $0.616 to $9.54 based on the credit pack you choose.
  • Extended licenses ($16.10/image) are uniquely sold with subscriptions at Dreamstime. This results in the best possible prices in the industry – $16.10 for an extended license. Of course, you can buy an extended license on-demand for 50 credits or $62.50.
  • Free trial (15 images) but they will be watermarked.

Methodology

We reviewed 31 stock photo sites based on 14 data points in the categories of image quality and variety, pricing, licensing, image number, customer support, and additional features. We chose the 6 best stock photo subscriptions on the weighting assigned to each category:

  • Image quality & variety: 20%
  • Pricing: 20%
  • Licensing: 20%
  • Image number: 15%
  • Additional features: 15%
  • Customer support: 10%

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 stock photo sites’ customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.

A Beginner’s Guide to Stock Image Subscriptions

How do subscriptions work?

A stock photo subscription can be used to get a certain number of images each month. When you sign up for a subscription plan, you’re given a fixed number of downloads each month.

The advantage of using subscriptions over on-demand or single purchases is that subscriptions guarantee the lowest price per image. By using subscriptions, you’ll benefit the most if you need images regularly. If you don’t use all your downloads in a month, certain stock photo sites roll them over to the next month, while others discard them. Conversely, if you use all your downloads, you can wait until the next month to get more or you can buy additional. Some stock photo sites give you additional downloads at a reduced price while others require to you purchase more images on-demand.

How are subscription images licensed?

Most of the time, images downloaded with subscriptions are licensed under the Standard license. This is a type of royalty-free license, which allows you to use the image on the web, for social media, and even up to 500,000 prints. However, you may not use the image for resale, such as T-shirts, product packaging, merch, and online resale.

If you need the resale rights, you need to buy the so-called Extended or Enhanced license. This is a type of a royalty-free license similar to the Standard license, but it allows unlimited reproduction. In addition, it comes with higher legal coverage than the Standard license. The only option to get Extended license in bulk si at Dreamstime for as low as $20.

Annual vs Monthly subscriptions

Most stock photo site give you the option of monthly and yearly subscription plans. The main difference is that you may cancel the monthly plans at any time, while yearly plans last for 12 months. While the yearly plans bind you to a 12-month commitment, you get, on average, 20-30% discount on the subscription price.

Therefore, we recommend annual subscriptions for those who are going to need for images for at least a year, while the monthly plans are better for those who need regular image downloads for a shorter time. Let’s compare the prices of the monthly and annual subscriptions:

Stock photo agencyMonthlyYearly
iStock$40–$199/month
($0.27–$4.00/image)
$29–$169/month
($0.22–$2.90/image)
Depositphotos$36–$199/month
($0.27–$1.44/image)
$25–$166/month
($0.22–$0.83/image)
Adobe Stock$29–$249/month
($0.33–$9.99/image)
$29–$199/month
($0.26–$2.99/image)
Shutterstock$49–$249/month
($0.33–$4.90/image)
$25–$167/month
($0.22–$2.50/image)
Canva$12.99/month$9.99/month
Dreamstime$25–$219/month
($0.24–$5.00/image)
$169
($0.187/image)

Subscription trials

A few stock photo sites offer free trials with their subscriptions. Generally, the free trials are available only with the annual plans as a reward for a longer commitment. The way they work is that you sign up for the free trial by creating an account and providing your payment information, but you won’t get billed just yet. Then you can download a number of stock images for free (usually 10) and use them even for commercial projects.

You can safely the cancel the trial before it ends and you won’t get billed. What is more, you get to keep the images you downloaded. Here are the best free trial currently available:

  1. Adobe Stock – 10, 25, or 40 free images
  2. Shutterstock – 10 free images
  3. iStock – 10 free images
  4. Canva – 1st month free, you can get unlimited downloads
  5. Bigstock – 35 free images or videos.
  6. Dreamstime – 15 watermarked images

The Verdict

Stock assets directly in Adobe apps. For example, if you create a design in Illustrator, you can open the library in the program and import any watermarked asset for free. This way, you can try dozens of images for free before you find the right one. You only pay for the images you use upon export. Likewise, iStock also supports integration into the Creative Cloud, as well as DropBox and Sketch, but at lower prices.

Unlike Adobe Stock and iStock, Shutterstock doesn’t offer any useful integrations, except for its “in-house” tools like Shutterstock Editor, File Converted, and Image Resizer.

Information provided on Photutorial is for educational purposes only. Your situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, nor do we recommend or advise individuals to buy or sell particular stocks or services. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Photutorial adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

About the author

Matic Broz profile image
MATIC BROZ

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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