The best stock photo sites right now

The best stock photo sites for a wide array of budgets and needs
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Shutterstock logo


Editor’s Choice: Best overall stock photo site for number and quality of photos
49% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$25/mo at Shutterstock
Envato elements logo

Envato Elements

Editor’s Choice: Cheap stock photo site with unlimited downloads
57% off with 12-mo plan
$16.50/mo at Envato Elements
Adobe Stock logo

Adobe Stock

Best stock photo site for graphic designers
20% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$29.99/mo at Adobe Stock
Depositphotos logo


Best cheap stock photo site, great for entrepreneurs
16% off with 12-mo plan (+7 days free)
$24.92/mo at Depositphotos
iStock logo


Best stock photo sites that sells premium photos with subscriptions
17% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$29/mo at iStock

The best stock photo sites are still important sources of royalty-photos photos despite the rise of AI image generators. But most stock photo sites are similar to each other at a glance but differ in crucial details like price per photo, licensing terms, image variety, and even search functionality.

I have spent many years buying images from several best stock photo sites as well as contributing to some of them, which gives me a rare insight into the ins and outs. I have tested and reviewed over 30 best stock photo sites, combining my experience with that of other experts in the field and customer reviews. Because I know exactly what makes a great stock image site, I am brilliantly placed to make these recommendations and have advised which stock image site is best for which customer. I also included links to my full reviews.

Below, I’ve outlined my favorite sources of royalty-free images for a variety of budgets and monthly needs.

Top 3: best stock photo sites

Why you can trust Photutorial? Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what’s best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Shutterstock icon


$24.92/mo $49/mo 50% off

Yep, it’s still number one! Shutterstock is still the best stock photo site, and a thirty-day trial lets you get 10 images for free. There’s no obligation to buy, but you can convert to a paid subscription during the trial or after.

Adobe Stock small icon

Adobe Stock

$29.99/mo $49.99/mo 40% off

This is a very similar stock photo site to Shutterstock with slightly higher prices and fewer images. This stock photo site is ideal for designers and other creatives invested in the Adobe ecosystem.

Envato Elements icon

Envato Elements

$11.70/mo $39.00/mo 70% off

Envato Elements offers unlimited downloads of all creative assets, including 8+ million images for a fixed monthly subscription fee. You can get up to 70% off with our discount.

The best stock photo sites of 2023

1. Shutterstock: Best overall

Shutterstock logo red background

When it comes to stock photos, Shutterstock is the undisputed leader. The platform boasts a massive library of 440 million images, overshadowing its closest competitors by a wide margin. But its size isn’t the only thing that has us captivated—Shutterstock’s affordability and flexible pricing plans make it an unbeatable choice for most buyers.

In terms of cost, Shutterstock defies the myth that big equals expensive. Prices for royalty-free images start at a wallet-friendly $0.22, which is an excellent deal given the sheer quality and variety of images available. Moreover, our collaboration with Shutterstock allows us to offer an exclusive 15% discount on all purchases, and there are additional discounts for annual subscriptions and high-volume monthly downloads, giving you even more bang for your buck.

Not ready to take the plunge? No worries—Shutterstock’s 30-day free trial lets you take the platform for a test drive. You’ll get 10 free images worth $29, allowing you to evaluate the site’s offerings with zero risk.

Who should get it: Shutterstock is perfect for anyone who needs a steady stream of top-notch images—be it individuals, businesses, or even developers. With monthly subscriptions covering anywhere from 10 to 750 images and budget options ranging from $25 to $250, there’s a plan that’ll fit just about every need. And for the coders out there, the platform offers a well-documented API that integrates seamlessly with various services and applications.

2. Adobe Stock: Best for designers

Adobe Stock logo blue background

When it comes to providing a rich, well-integrated stock asset experience, Adobe Stock is the clear winner for graphic designers. Its seamless compatibility with Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop and Illustrator gives it a leg up over competitors, enabling designers to efficiently move assets straight into their current projects.

Starting at $29.99 per month, Adobe Stock gives you access to a vast and varied library of over 318 million images, not to mention templates, 3D objects, and fonts. That’s a lot of creative firepower at your fingertips. The quality of images and other assets is top-notch, and the platform even tosses in more than 1 million free images for good measure.

On the downside, Adobe Stock is a bit of a splurge compared to some other options out there. The absence of promotional codes or coupons further limits its accessibility for those on a tighter budget. While it offers a robust selection of premium content, this content does come at a premium price. Additionally, while customer support is generally available, it could stand some improvement in expertise level.

Who should get it: Still, if you’re a graphic designer relying on Adobe’s suite of creative tools, the advantages of Adobe Stock are too compelling to ignore. Its library is both extensive and diverse, offering a one-stop-shop for your creative needs and making your workflow more streamlined than ever. For those who can afford it, this is a resource that’s well worth the investment.

3. Envato Elements: Best for unlimited downloads

Envato Elements logo on green background

Envato Elements slides comfortably into our second spot, primarily because it’s a treasure trove for creatives who crave limitless downloads. With an Individual subscription beginning at just $11.50 per month, you gain unfettered access to over 8.1 million images. That’s a lot of creative firepower at your fingertips for a price that won’t break the bank.

But the platform’s appeal doesn’t stop there. For $16.50 per month, paid annually, you unlock a mind-boggling 57% discount, bringing you endless downloads across all asset types. Even better? Students get to sweeten the deal with an extra 30% discount. Just keep in mind, once you end your subscription, any downloaded assets are off-limits for new projects.

Envato Elements isn’t just about images; it’s a comprehensive toolkit for creatives. From mockups and logos in Placeit to courses in Tuts+, this platform is a multi-tool for the modern creative professional or hobbyist. However, it’s worth mentioning that customer support is somewhat restricted, and the platform’s indemnity protection could be better.

Who should get it: If you’re a creative powerhouse churning out content across various media, or if you’re part of a small team or a student, Envato Elements should be on your radar. It’s tailor-made for those who require a multitude of assets but may not necessarily need top-tier image quality or complex licensing arrangements.

4. Depositphotos: Best for bloggers

Depositphotos logo blue background

When it comes to sourcing top-notch images for blogging, Depositphotos stakes its claim as one of the best options available. With a catalog of over 255 million images and plans that start at just $24.92 per month for 30 images, the platform delivers outstanding value, especially if you’re scaling up your visual content needs.

Depositphotos stands out for its excellent customer support, easily reached via phone, live chat, and email, a feature that anyone who’s experienced hiccups in their creative process will certainly appreciate. Add to this a user-friendly interface featuring reverse image search capabilities, and you’ve got a tool designed to make your life as a blogger easier.

But it’s not just about what’s under the hood. The additional tools like the VistaCreate editor, a free background remover, and image upscaler add layers of utility that can make a big difference in your content’s quality. And let’s not forget the 7-day free trial, a confidence-boosting feature that lets you take the platform for a spin before making any long-term commitments.

That said, there are some caveats. The lack of custom packs, only available for enterprise customers, may leave some users wanting. Additionally, the indemnity offered for standard and extended licenses caps at $5,000, which might not be sufficient for everyone. Also, the platform’s range of images on trending topics doesn’t quite match the diversity offered by its competitors like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.

Who should get it: If you’re a blogger looking for a well-rounded, user-friendly platform that provides a large selection of images without breaking the bank, Depositphotos should be high on your list. Its strengths significantly outweigh its limitations, making it a reliable source for consistent, high-quality visuals tailored to the blogging world.

5. iStock: Best for premium images with subscriptions

iStock logo green background

For those who prioritize access to premium images through subscription plans, iStock secures a high-ranking spot on our list. It’s the only stock photo platform offering Signature images—of a quality echoing Getty Images—for as little as $0.44 per download. With a library featuring a whopping 130 million images, iStock’s Essentials and Signature collections offer a comprehensive array of choices that fit a range of quality and budget needs.

From a pricing standpoint, iStock competes fiercely. Essentials images can be had for as low as $0.22 to $4.00 per image with subscriptions, while the premium Signature images range between $0.44 and $9.90 per download. Plus, the 30-day free trial with 10 images offers a low-risk entry point to gauge the platform’s suitability for your needs.

However, there are some wrinkles in this otherwise appealing package. The cost for Signature images is notably steeper than their Essential counterparts, which might not align well with every budget. Similarly, the Extended License fees are on the higher side, ranging from $144 to $216. Customer service, too, is an area where iStock could see some enhancement; current support can be sluggish or sometimes entirely unresponsive.

Who should get it: So, who’s the ideal user? If you’re looking for top-tier images and are willing to invest in quality, iStock is a compelling choice. While it may not be the cheapest option on the market, its competitive pricing, particularly for premium Signature images, makes it a valuable resource for those who are serious about the visual elements of their projects.

Other good stock photo sites

6. 123RF

123RF logo yellow background

123RF lands a solid place in our list as the go-to platform for those looking for both versatility and budget-friendly options in stock photos. Its impressive library houses over 110 million images, covering an extensive range of themes and styles. Subscription plans start at just $29 per month for 10 images, presenting a highly cost-effective option for those looking to stretch their dollar without sacrificing quality.

A standout feature for 123RF is its ‘Reverse Image Search’ capability, akin to Depositphotos, allowing users to find visually similar images effortlessly. Additionally, 123RF offers a robust set of tools such as a color extraction feature, which is a unique asset for creatives focused on thematic consistency.

Although it doesn’t offer a free trial, the affordability of its plans and the flexibility in its pricing structure make it less of a gamble for newcomers. However, the platform could improve its customer support, which is currently available but not always as quick or as expert as one might hope.

Who should get it: 123RF is an excellent choice for freelancers, small businesses, and anyone looking for cost-effective, versatile stock photos. With a wide array of images and a user-friendly interface, it caters to those who need quality visuals without breaking the bank.

7. Vecteezy

Vecteezy earns a spot on our list as the premier destination for high-quality vector graphics, alongside a curated selection of stock photos. The platform offers a dual pricing model: a generous selection of free resources and a Pro version starting at $14.99/month. With over 100,000 vector images and stock photos in its library, Vecteezy offers a wealth of creative options for professionals and hobbyists alike.

One of Vecteezy’s standout features is its focus on vectors, making it a haven for designers in need of scalable, high-quality graphic elements. The platform also boasts an easy-to-navigate interface with an intuitive search function that quickly leads you to the resources you’re looking for.

While the platform doesn’t offer a free trial, the availability of free, high-quality resources lessens the initial investment risk. However, the customer support isn’t 24/7, and some users have reported delays in response time.

Who should get it: Vecteezy is tailor-made for graphic designers, content creators, and businesses looking for high-quality vector graphics, as well as a more compact but well-curated selection of stock photos. The platform serves as an excellent resource for those who want creative freedom without having to shell out premium prices.

8. Dreamstime

Dreamstime sets itself apart as the go-to platform for users seeking extended licenses without breaking the bank. With a 30% discount and the lowest price tags for extended licenses in the market, it offers a substantial edge for those who need more comprehensive usage rights.

However, it’s important to note that Dreamstime comes with its set of caveats. The inconsistent image quality may deter those looking for uniformly top-notch, professional visuals. The platform’s variety also leaves something to be desired, which could limit its appeal for more diverse projects.

Despite these drawbacks, the affordable extended licensing options available with subscriptions make Dreamstime a strong contender for specific use-cases. If you can look past some quality inconsistencies and are more focused on the licensing benefits, Dreamstime is well worth considering.

Who should get it: For users who prioritize budget-friendly extended licenses combined with subscription plans, Dreamstime rises as a practical option. Still, if consistent, high-quality imagery is non-negotiable, you may want to explore other avenues.

9. Getty Images

When it comes to sourcing premium editorial images, Getty Images reigns supreme. The platform has long been considered the gold standard for high-quality editorial content, offering a stellar selection of over 157 million photographs that cover a broad spectrum of themes, eras, and styles. For users who prioritize the caliber of images and require unlimited license reproduction, Getty Images presents an unrivaled choice.

That said, the platform comes with its set of drawbacks. The absence of a free trial and subscription options might deter those who are hesitant to commit to a significant financial outlay upfront. Also, the high cost for rights-managed licenses can be a significant barrier for smaller businesses or individual users. Customer support, or the lack thereof, has also emerged as a noteworthy concern. Users have reported an unresponsive support team, which may be a significant issue for those requiring prompt assistance.

Who should get it: Getty Images is best suited for professionals and organizations seeking unmatched quality in editorial images, and who are willing to invest accordingly. However, if you’re operating on a budget or require responsive customer support, you might want to explore more budget-friendly or customer-oriented alternatives.

10. Stocksy

When it comes to crafting striking book covers, Stocksy emerges as our top pick. Despite a smaller library of 1.9 million images, what Stocksy offers is quality that’s worth every penny. The platform provides a level of image excellence that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in many other stock photo platforms. This makes it particularly ideal for authors, publishers, and designers who need that “wow factor” for their book covers.

The platform also scores high on the flexibility scale, offering both royalty-free and rights-managed licensing options. Even more, for those seeking unique appeal, Stocksy enables you to freeze the market on specific images, ensuring exclusivity for periods ranging from six months to five years. This can be especially valuable if you’re after a one-of-a-kind book cover that stands out in a crowded marketplace.

However, this quality and exclusivity come at a price. Stocksy doesn’t offer subscription plans, meaning you’ll need to operate on a pay-as-you-go basis, which could be expensive for some. Also, there’s no free trial to give the platform a test run before you invest.

Who should get it: If you’re in the business of creating eye-catching book covers and quality and exclusivity are high on your list, then Stocksy is well worth the investment. However, if you’re budget-conscious or looking for a broader selection, you might want to explore other options.

11. Unsplash

When it comes to sourcing free images that don’t break the bank, Unsplash stands out as our top choice. With a library of over 4 million Creative Commons 0 licensed images, it offers a plethora of options for both personal and commercial use. The platform’s policy is a game-changer: you can freely use the images without the need for any attribution or permission, although giving credit is always a good practice.

Unsplash’s image collection impresses with its diversity. From landscapes to lifestyle shots and corporate images, the platform offers a wide range of themes. With an average addition of almost 100k new images each month, Unsplash is quickly becoming a heavyweight in the free stock image arena.

However, it’s not without its downsides. The platform relies on user contributions without offering commission to authors. This leads to occasional gaps in image coverage for specialized topics. The hunt for that perfect image might require some extra effort. Additionally, Unsplash offers no indemnification, leaving you without legal coverage if you choose to use an image in a commercial project.

Who should get it: Unsplash is the go-to for anyone looking for free, high-quality images for various projects. It’s perfect for bloggers, small business owners, or anyone on a tight budget. However, if you need a wide variety of highly specific images or legal coverage, it’s advisable to opt for premium platforms like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock.

Compare stock photo sites in September 2023

Stock photo sitePricePhotosBest for
Shutterstock$0.22–$14.50/image434 millionOverall stock photo site
Envato Elements$11.50–$39.00/mo8.1 millionUnlimited downloads; creatives
Adobe Stock$0.26–$9.99/image326 millionGraphic designers
Depositphotos$0.22–$14.00/image255 millionBloggers
iStock$0.22–$9.90/image130 millionPremium images with subscriptions
(unlimited downloads)
110 millionAmateur designers
Dreamstime$0.23–$51.78/image209 millionCheap extended licenses
Getty Images$150–$499/image30 millionEditorial images
Stocksy$15–$125/image1.9 millionBook covers
UnsplashFree4 millionFree stock photos

Best stock photo sites FAQ

What is a stock photo site?

A stock photo site is an online platform that provides a vast collection of high-quality images, illustrations, and videos for individuals and businesses to use in their projects or marketing materials. These digital assets can be downloaded and utilized in various applications, such as websites, advertisements, presentations, or social media posts. Stock photo sites offer a convenient and cost-effective way to access professional visuals without needing to hire a photographer or create custom content.

By signing up for a stock photo site, you can browse through a diverse library of visuals, which are typically organized by themes, categories, or keywords for easy searching. Depending on the platform, you may be able to access the content through a subscription plan, individual purchase, or even for free. Licensing options vary, but they generally allow you to use the assets for personal or commercial purposes without infringing on copyright laws.

Stock photo sites are an excellent resource for anyone in need of high-quality visuals to enhance their projects, campaigns, or websites. To help you navigate the world of stock photography, we’ve broken down some essential terminology in our guide to all the stock photo terms you need to know.

How to choose the best stock photo site?

There are a number of factors you need to consider when choosing the best stock photo site for you. The first is what you want to use it for. If you’re a professional designer or content creator, even if you’re new to the industry or still studying the discipline, premium stock photo sites like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are our top picks. These are the only platforms on our list with the extensive range of high-quality images and advanced search features you need to find the perfect visuals for your projects.

If you’re a beginner or have a limited budget, however, premium stock photo sites might be too expensive. You’d be better off with a more affordable or even free stock photo site like Envato Elements, Depositphotos, and Unsplash, which offers a wide range of images without breaking the bank. Once you’ve gained some experience and have a more substantial budget, you may need access to more exclusive and diverse images, especially if you’re creating content for social media, marketing campaigns, or professional publications.

Beyond that, there are technical considerations to take into account too. Do you need images in specific formats, resolutions, or sizes? What are the licensing options available, and do they match your intended usage? (royalty-free, rights-managed, or extended licenses?). Finally, there’s the question of budget. While free stock photo sites exist, they may have limited offerings or lower-quality images. To access the full range of images and features, you’ll generally need to pay. Some stock photo sites are available for a one-time fee, while others require a subscription or offer pay-as-you-go options, so that may factor into your decision too.

Paid vs. free stock photo sites

Lots of new business owners like to turn to free stock photo sites because they find paid stock photo sites unnecessarily expensive. But if you look at more established businesses, you’ll notice that they all use paid and even premium stock images. Here’s why:

  1. Indemnities: Paid stock photo platforms generally offer higher indemnity coverage, protecting you against copyright infringement claims and potential legal issues. Free stock photo sites almost exclusively provide zero coverage, thus leaving you more vulnerable to potential disputes. Free stock photography websites also have a more difficult time getting photographers to contribute photos, so they have lower standards and don’t vet them as thoroughly.
  2. Image quality: When it comes to image quality, paid stock photo sites often have the upper hand. They typically offer a vast library of high-quality, professionally shot images, ensuring you have access to top-notch visual content for your campaigns. While free stock photo sites can sometimes provide high-quality images, the overall quality and consistency may not be on par with their paid counterparts.
  3. Selection: Paid stock photo sites usually boast a more extensive and diverse selection of images, allowing you to find the perfect visuals for your commercial campaigns. This vast selection ensures that you have a wide variety of unique and fresh images to choose from, reducing the likelihood of using over-selected or overused visuals. Free stock photo sites, on the other hand, tend to have a smaller and more limited library, increasing the chances of using images that have been widely circulated already.
  4. Licensing: Paid stock photo sites often provide more flexible licensing options, granting you the rights to use images in various ways, including commercially. Free stock photo sites may have more restrictive licenses or require attribution, limiting how you can use the images in your campaigns.

So, if you want to buy images for commercial use, paid stock photo sites are the way to go.

Which stock photo site is best?

Right now, Shutterstock tops our list of the best stock photo websites. This industry-standard, subscription-based stock image company is aimed at a wide array of customers, from bloggers to enterprises. It comes with sophisticated search tools and the largest collection of stock photos. And the latest AI image generator shows how committed Shutterstock is to continually improving.

The recent update to Shutterstock’s pricing is what finally sealed its fate at the top of our list of the best stock photography sites. Now, you can download images, videos, and music tracks with one active subscription, whereas before you had to buy a subscription for each type of asset separately.

Which stock photo site is the cheapest?

If you’re on a tighter budget or you need a wide array of stock assets, an option with unlimited downloads is the best for you. In this category, Envato Elements takes the crown. For just $16.50 per month, you get unlimited downloads of 8.1 million images, 4.2 million videos, and hundreds of thousands of fonts, music, sound effects, templates, and other creative assets.

Another great alternative with unlimited downloads is Canva. For $9.99/mo, you get access to the entire Canva suite of tools, which are perfect for bloggers, marketers, and beginner graphic designers. You also get unlimited downloads of over 110 million stock images, many of which come from premium sites like Getty Images.

Which stock photo site is the best for designers?

Right now, Adobe Stock tops our list of the best stock photo sites for designers. This subscription-based platform is aimed at professionals and offers a vast collection of high-quality images, vectors, and illustrations. Adobe Stock is also fully integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud, making it convenient and efficient for designers using Adobe applications.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, Shutterstock is a great choice as it is also integrated with Creative Cloud. It offers a massive library of images, vectors, and illustrations, catering to various styles and themes. Shutterstock provides different pricing plans, including subscriptions and on-demand options, making it suitable for various budgets.

What’s the best stock photo site for mobile?

If you want to browse and download stock photos on your phone or tablet, we’d suggest checking out the Shutterstock mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. The app offers a simple and user-friendly interface, making it easy to search for and download images on the go. With the app, you can browse the vast library, save images to collections, and even buy images directly from your mobile device.

What is the best free stock photo site?

If you’re looking for high-quality stock photos without spending a dime, Unsplash is an excellent choice. It offers a wide range of beautiful, high-resolution images for free, provided by a community of talented photographers. While the collection may not be as extensive as premium stock photo sites, Unsplash is a fantastic starting point for those on a budget or seeking free images for personal or commercial use.

Are stock photo sites legal?

Stock photo sites are entirely legal to use in most countries. There’s nothing wrong with acquiring images, illustrations, and videos for your projects or marketing materials through a legitimate stock photo site. These platforms offer a convenient and lawful way to access professional visuals without violating copyright laws.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that you use a reputable stock photo site that adheres to licensing and copyright regulations. Unauthorized use of copyrighted content can lead to legal issues, even if you found the image on a stock photo site. Always make sure to read and understand the licensing terms and conditions associated with the visuals you download, as these determine how you can legally use them.

In most cases, using a stock photo site is a perfectly legal and safe way to obtain high-quality visuals for your personal or professional projects. Remember, though, that using a stock photo site does not grant you the right to engage in illegal activities involving the acquired assets. Always follow the terms and conditions set by the stock photo site and respect the copyright of the original creators.

Royalty-free vs. rights-managed

When choosing stock photos from various websites, it’s essential to understand the difference between royalty-free and rights-managed licenses. Each type of license grants specific usage rights and restrictions for the images you acquire.

Royalty-Free Licenses: Royalty-free (RF) licenses are typically more affordable and flexible than rights-managed licenses. When you buy stock photos, you pay a one-time fee to use the photo for multiple purposes and an unlimited number of times without paying additional royalties. However, there may still be restrictions on how you can use the image, such as prohibiting its use for resale purposes or limiting the number of print copies. It’s essential to read the terms and conditions of the royalty-free license before using the stock photo to ensure you comply with the guidelines.

Rights-Managed Licenses: Rights-managed (RM) licenses, on the other hand, grant you the right to use an image for a specific purpose, time frame, or territory. This type of license often comes with more restrictions and is more expensive than royalty-free licenses. The price of a rights-managed license is determined by factors like the intended use, duration, and geographic region. Once the license expires, you’ll need to renew it if you wish to continue using the image. Rights-managed licenses may also grant exclusivity, meaning the image won’t be sold to other customers during the license period.

How the best stock photo sites compare

Stock photo quality

We rely on stock photos to enhance the visual appeal of our projects, such as blog posts, marketing campaigns, and presentations. Consequently, it’s crucial to use high-quality stock images; otherwise, we risk undermining the very purpose of incorporating visual content. Rest assured, all ten stock photo sites featured here provide top-notch images that we confidently use on Photutorial without hesitation.

One notable exception is Dreamstime, whose images often appear over-edited and lack a professional touch. We even debated excluding it from our list of the best stock image sites. However, we ultimately decided to retain it, as some customers may find value in the subscription-based extended licenses offered by the platform.

Stock photo variety, & number

Variety and number of stock photos go hand in hand—the more photos you have, the higher the variety. These qualities are imperial when you buy a stock photo subscription because it ensures that you never run out of fresh downloads.

How many stock photos are there:

Stock photo siteNumber of photos
Shutterstock434 million
Envato Elements8.1 million
Adobe Stock326 million
Depositphotos255 million
iStock130 million
Canva110 million
Dreamstime209 million
Getty Images30 million
Stocksy1.9 million
Unsplash4 million

Shutterstock is the absolute winner in the number of stock photos, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find good variety elsewhere. For example, Envato Elements offers unlimited downloads and is thus much cheaper than Shutterstock, while it also lets you download stock assets, like fonts, videos, templates, and audio under one subscription.


For most people who aren’t part of a corporation, price plays a crucial role when purchasing stock photos. Although the cost of a camera often correlates with the quality of the photos it can capture, there’s no such rule in stock photography. On our list of top stock photo sites, you’ll find images priced anywhere from $0.20 to $500 per image, with little to no discernible difference in quality at times.

Here’s a breakdown of stock photo costs at the best stock sites:

Stock photo siteStandard licenseExtended license
Envato Elements$16.50–$39.00/mo
(unlimited downloads)
Adobe Stock$0.26–$9.99/image$79.00
(unlimited downloads)
Getty Images$150–$499/image

The wide price range within a stock photo agency is largely due to the discounts available. You can typically save on stock photos through:

  • Coupons (10–20% discount)
  • Bulk discounts — when you purchase a large subscription or many images at once (5%–90% discount)
  • Subscription vs. on-demand — subscriptions are generally more cost-effective than buying stock images on-demand
  • Plan duration — opting for a yearly plan instead of a monthly one is around 20% cheaper. Some sites, like Shutterstock, also offer an annual prepaid option, which provides an additional 20% off.
  • Image sizes — on-demand sites like Getty Images or Stocksy offer smaller images (lower resolution) at lower prices.

Shutterstock offers the most diverse range of discounts. By using our Shutterstock coupon, you can receive 15% off right away. Subscriptions are also much more affordable than on-demand purchases ($0.22–$4.90/image vs. $9.16–$14.50/image). The excellent subscription prices result from a combination of a 20% annual discount, a 40% annual prepaid discount, and a 90% discount when you buy the largest plan compared to the smallest. Consequently, the maximum discount you can get on a royalty-free Shutterstock image when combining all factors, is 98.7% ($0.187/image vs. $14.50/image).

Other subscription-based stock photo sites offer similar discounts, though not as substantial as Shutterstock. You can secure annual, bulk, and subscription discounts at iStock, Adobe Stock, and Depositphotos, reducing the price by up to 90%. iStock and Depositphotos also provide coupons, while Adobe Stock does not.

Canva and Envato Elements include unlimited downloads with active subscriptions, so the only way to get a discount with them is through annual subscription discounts. Envato Elements’ annual discount is 57% ($16.50/mo from $39.00/mo), while Canva’s is 23% ($9.95/mo from $12.95/mo). Both platforms also offer student discounts—Envato Elements’ price drops to $10.50/mo for eligible students, while Canva is entirely free for students and teachers, and educators.

Free trial

Free trials for stock images provide an exceptional opportunity to explore your preferred stock image site or acquire premium stock images at no cost. While browsing stock images is generally free, free trials enable you to download a specific number of royalty-free stock photos without charge, allowing you to use them for commercial purposes as well.

All the best stock photo agencies offer some sort of a free trial:

Stock photo siteFree trialDurationYou save
Shutterstock10 images or 1 videos or 2 audio tracks30 days$29
Envato Elements12 free files each month$60
Adobe Stock10, 25, or 40 images or 3 to 6 HD videos30 days$30–$80
Depositphotos10 images7 days$36
iStock10 images30 days$29
CanvaFree subscription30 days$12.95
Getty Images

Indemnity amount

Most paid stock photo sites offer indemnification, which is the amount of money paid by the stock photo site if their image gets you in trouble. The higher the amount, the higher your coverage. The indemnification is usually $10,000 with a royalty-free license (Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe Stock), but some other sites offer much lower indemnity. For example, Depositphotos offers only $5,000 per image for no obvious reason. Sites offering unlimited downloads also generally offer lower indemnity since you pay significantly less for each image.

Indemnity is, therefore super-important as it effectively protects you from harm. But it’s more than that. Inadvertently, it also shows you how much stock photo sites trust that their images are legitimate. That’s why, at Photutorial, we use indemnity amount as one of the most important factors when ranking the best stock photo sites.

Indemnities compared:

Stock photo siteStandard licenseExtended license
Envato Elements6-month subscription paid
Adobe Stock$10,000$10,000
Canva12-month subscription paid
Getty Images$10,000$250,000

Other factors worth considering

Evaluate search functionality: A stock photo site with efficient search functionality will save you time and effort when looking for the perfect visual assets. Consider the site’s search filters, keyword accuracy, and overall ease of navigation when choosing a platform.

Check for API access for developers: If you’re a developer and require integration of stock photos into your applications or websites, look for a stock photo site that offers API access. This feature will make it easier to incorporate and manage visuals directly within your projects.

Assess customer support: Effective customer support can be crucial in addressing any issues or concerns that arise when using a stock photo site. Look for platforms that offer reliable and prompt customer service through multiple channels, such as email, live chat, or phone.

Best stock photo deals today

Shutterstock logo


Editor’s Choice: Best overall stock photo site for number and quality of photos
49% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$25/mo at Shutterstock
Envato elements logo

Envato Elements

Editor’s Choice: Cheap stock photo site with unlimited downloads
57% off with 12-mo plan
$16.50/mo at Envato Elements
Adobe Stock logo

Adobe Stock

Best stock photo site for graphic designers
20% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$29.99/mo at Adobe Stock
Depositphotos logo


Best cheap stock photo site, great for entrepreneurs
16% off with 12-mo plan (+7 days free)
$24.92/mo at Depositphotos
iStock logo


Best stock photo sites that sells premium photos with subscriptions
17% off with 12-mo plan (+1 free month)
$29/mo at iStock

Stock photo websites we considered

We took a close look at nearly 30 stock image sites. We rated them on criteria including quality and number of images, pricing, licensing terms, customer support, additional features (such as integrations), and more.

Stock image companies reviewed are: Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Envato Elements, iStock, Depositphotos, Getty Images, Vecteezy, Alamy, Dreamstime, Stocksy, Bigstock, 123RF, Crestock, Freepik, Gratisography, Death to Stock, Unsplash+, PxBee, CanStockPhoto, Offset by Shutterstock, YAYImages, StockUnlimited, Photocase, Stock Photo Secrets.