Buy Stock Photos: How To Buy Stock Photos in 2023?

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Are you looking to buy stock photos for your business or personal use, but you’re overwhelmed by the numerous available options and worried about making the wrong decision?

We understand how you feel. Even with years of experience in this field, we still have to carefully consider every factor when recommending stock image sites to our readers.

In this post, we will guide you through the process of buying stock photos in 2022, addressing common pain points and providing expert advice based on our personal experience in the industry. Whether you are a small business owner, graphic designer, or someone who needs high-quality images, you will clearly understand how to choose and purchase stock photos that fit your needs and budget by the end of this article.

Where to buy stock photos?

You can buy stock photos through stock image sites, which are online platforms offering a wide range of images, illustrations, and video footage for purchase. These sites allow you to browse and search through their collections to find the perfect image for your project.

Stock image sites offer a convenient way to access a wide range of professional-grade visuals for your project. Many of these sites offer advanced search and filter tools to help you narrow down your options and find the perfect image. Some sites also offer keyword suggestions and related image recommendations to help you find what you’re looking for.

What to consider when buying stock photos?

When buying stock photos, there are several key factors to consider in order to find the best option for your needs. These include:

  • Price: The cost of stock photos can vary significantly depending on the agency and the specific image you are purchasing. Some agencies offer subscriptions, which allow you to access a certain number of images for a monthly or annual fee. Others offer on-demand purchasing, where you pay for each image individually. Some agencies also offer free trials, allowing you to test their services before purchasing. Read more: How much do stock photos cost?
  • Quality and variety: It’s important to consider the quality and variety of the images offered by a stock photo agency. Look for agencies that offer high-resolution images with a good amount of detail, and consider whether the selection of images meets your needs.
  • Customer support: Good customer support is important when buying stock photos, as you may have questions or need assistance with your purchase. Look for agencies that offer knowledgeable and responsive customer support teams.
  • Licensing terms: The licensing terms of stock photos can vary significantly, so it’s important to carefully review the terms of use before making a purchase. Some key factors to consider include indemnity, the number of copies you are allowed to make, whether the images are royalty-free or creative commons, and whether extended licenses or rights-managed licenses are available. Read more: What is royalty-free?
  • Additional features: Some stock photo agencies offer additional features that can be helpful when choosing and using stock photos. These may include integrations with other programs, such as Adobe Creative Cloud, and insights tools like iStock Visual GPS Insights or AI search.

By considering these factors, you can decide which stock photo agency is the best fit for your needs.

Best place to buy stock photos

Best stock photo sites vary based on your requirements; with that in mind, we have written a number of different posts for each type of customer, so we won’t go into lots of detail here.

Overall, these are the best places to buy stock photos:

  1. Best Overall: Shutterstock
  2. Best for Unlimited Downloads: Envato Elements
  3. Best for Graphic Designers: Adobe Stock
  4. Best for Premium Images: iStock
  5. Best Low-Budget: Depositphotos
  6. Best for Amateur Designers: Canva

Learn more about each type of stock photo site here:

Who uses stock photos?

  1. Graphic designers: These creative professionals often purchase stock photos to use in a variety of digital design projects, such as social media banners, advertisements, websites, flyers, and brochures.
  2. Small businesses: Many small business owners turn to stock photos to add visual interest to their marketing materials, including websites, brochures, and other promotional materials.
  3. Publishers: Publishers frequently purchase stock photos for print materials like books, magazines, and other printed materials.
  4. Social media marketers: In the fast-paced world of social media, it can be challenging to develop new content consistently. Buying stock photos is an efficient way for social media marketers to keep their content pipelines flowing.
  5. Filmmakers and videographers: These creative professionals often purchase stock photos to create motion graphics and custom visuals for their projects.
  6. Real estate agents: Real estate agents often use stock photos in brochures, flyers, and virtual listings to showcase properties visually appealingly.
  7. Entrepreneurs: When launching a new business, entrepreneurs may use stock photos to add professional-looking visuals to their websites, business cards, and other printed materials.
  8. Bloggers: Many bloggers purchase stock photos to add quality visuals to their blogs and websites.
  9. Interior designers: Interior designers may use stock photos to showcase their projects online and in traditional media outlets.
  10. Event planners: Stock photos can be useful for event planners who need to create digital media and prints for special events.
  11. Tourism businesses: Companies in the tourism industry may purchase stock photos to use in their web listings and websites to attract potential customers.

How to buy stock photos?

Step 1: Choose a stock photo provider

To begin the process of purchasing stock photos, you will need to select a provider. There are many different stock photo websites to choose from, so it’s important to consider factors such as the quality and variety of photos available, the terms of use and licensing options, and the cost. Once you have identified a few potential providers that meet your needs, you can compare them and select the one that best fits your requirements.

Our favor to you: contact us, and we’ll help you make an informed decision for free!

Step 2: Search for the desired photos

Once you have selected a stock photo provider, you can search for the photos you need. Most stock photo websites have a search feature that allows you to enter keywords or themes to help narrow down your options. You can also often browse through different categories to find specific types of photos.

More advanced stock photo sites also provide AI search for images, which work similarly to Google’s reverse image search. In addition, you can search by color, number of people, image orientation, to name a few.

Step 3: Select the photos you want to purchase

Once you have found some photos that meet you like, you will need to select them for purchase. Most stock photo websites allow you to add photos to a “lightbox” or “cart” so you can review your selections before making a purchase.

You can also categorize your photos in groups to save them for later and organize your image research. Most sites have these features available with a free account.

Step 4: Choose a license type

While most modern stock photo websites offer royalty-free licensing, their license differ in the nitty-gritty detailes, such as the number of allowed reproductions and legal coverage you get. Which license you pick, determines how you can use the photos.

For example, some licenses may allow you to use the photos for commercial purposes, while others may only allow for personal use. So, always carefully review the terms of each license to ensure that you select the one that is right for your needs.

Read more about licensing: Stock photo licensing

Step 5: Choose a buying option

Before you start searching for photos, you will need to decide whether you want to purchase photos on an on-demand basis or through a subscription. On-demand purchases allow you to buy a specific number of photos for a one-time fee, while subscriptions give you access to a larger number of photos for a recurring fee. Here’s how to select each:

FeatureSubscriptionsOn-demand
CostCheaper per photo ($0.20–$9.99/image)More expensive per photo ($1–$100/image)
FlexiblityLowerHigher
Best forOngoing image needsOccassional image needs
Get extended license?Rarely (only Dreamstime)Yes

Step 6: Make the purchase

Once you have chosen your photos and selected a license, you will need to make the purchase. This usually involves entering your payment information and completing the transaction. Once you’ve paid for the photos, you’ll usually get an email with links to download them.

Step 7: Download and use the photos

After you have made the purchase, you can download the photos and start using them in your projects. Be sure to follow the terms of the license, which may include requirements such as crediting the photographer or using the photos in a specific way.

Frequently asked questions

Why do stock photos cost money?

Stock photos are created by photographers who invest in expensive equipment in order to produce professional-quality images. These photographers earn a commission whenever their photos are downloaded from a stock photo site. Stock photo sites also incur costs for employee salaries, operating expenses, and licensing agreements.

About your guide

Matic Broz profile image
Matic Broz

Matic Broz is a multifaceted creative professional, with experience as a photographer, graphic designer, and business owner. He has a decade of experience in helping other creatives improve their craft and start their own businesses. His writing and research have been featured in notable publications such as The Guardian, PetaPixel, and USA Today. Additionally, his scientific research has been recognized with a cover feature in the prestigious MDPI-owned journal. In his leisure time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and spending time with dogs. Read more

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.

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