Cheapest stock photos of September 2023

Find cheap stock imagery with these cheapest stock photo sites

By Matic Broz, editor-in-chief of Photutorial covering stock media, Adobe, and design. He founded Photutorial while finishing his PhD in computational biosciences.

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When finding cheap stock images, consider aspects like:

  • Cost: Look for a subscription that offers unlimited monthly downloads at an affordable price.
  • Licensing: Broad licensing terms allow you to use images for a wide variety of purposes, including commercial use.
  • Image quality: Do not pick a low-quality site just because it’s very cheap.

Here are some of the best sites for cheap stock photos that fit those criteria:

The best cheap stock photos

If you’re after cheap stock photography, read the following reviews of some of the best sites to buy affordable stock images. We tested and reviewed 5 stock photo sites that let you buy images online cheap.

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.

Cheap stock photos with unlimited downloads

Envato Elements

See Offer
on Envato Elements’ website
7 million
Image price
Free trial
Unlimited downloads (7 days)

Our take: At Envato Elements, you get unlimited downloads of stock photos with an active subscription for just $16.50 a month. You can also download stock videos, music, video templates, fonts, plugins, and themes and use them for commercial purposes. Students get an additional 30% discount, paying just $11.50 a month. More: Envato Elements review

Pros & Cons


  • Unlimited downloads with no daily limits.
  • 7-day free trial with full access to all creative assets.
  • Assets can be used commercially.
  • Simple licensing.
  • Plans for individuals, teams, and enterprises.


  • One of the lowest indemnities in the industry.
  • You can’t use creative assets for new projects after unsubscribing.
  • A small collection of photos and videos compared to other stock agencies.
  • No refunds.
More Details
  • Image quality & variety: Envato Elements offers a surprisingly good variety with over 7 million images, which is considerably less than at other stock photos sites like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock. However, the quality of photos is lower than elsewhere, yet good enough for most projects.
  • Price: Envato Elements’ pricing involves only one subscription plan with two commitments and one discount—all give you unlimited downloads of all creative assets. The monthly plan costs $39 per month, and the annual plan costs $16.50 per month. Students get a 30% discount, which reduces the price for the annual plan to just $11.50 per month.
  • Licensing: The Envato Elements licensing is not as impressive because you get unlimited downloads. While it’s still royalty-free, you may not use the assets for merchandise or other purposes where the asset would represent the majority of the value.
  • Customer support: Envato Elements customer support is available through email or the help page.
  • Additional features: The best-known Envato feature is Placeit, the mockup and logo tool. There are also tuts+ for learning, mixkit, and reshot.
  • Free trial: The 7-day free trial, during which you could get full access to all features is no longer available. Instead, you can get 12 free files each month.
  • Discounts: Subscriptions for individuals are available with 57% cheaper yearly ($16.50/month) and monthly ($39.00/month) commitments. Students get a 30% discount on subscriptions, thus paying only $11.00/month. Each additional team member is 30% cheaper. Read more about Envato Elements discounts »

Cheap stock photos for amateur designers


See Offer
on Canva’ website
110 million
Image price
Free trial
30 days

Our take: At $9.99/month, Canva is cheaper than Envato Elements, but several of its photos are imported from Pexels and other free stock photo sites that you can get for free without an active Canva subscription. Read our full Canva review »

Pros & Cons


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


  • Bad at photo editing
  • No one-time purchase option
  • Can’t use it offline
  • Lacks advanced design options
More Details
  • Image quality & variety: Many of Canva’s images are imported from free stock photo sites like Pexels. Although these images are often very professional, Canva’s variety doesn’t match Shutterstock’s or Adobe Stock’s.
  • Price: Canva is available with a free plan, which limits certain functions like resizing and premium assets. The Pro plan is available with monthly ($12.99/month) and yearly ($9.99/month) commitments. Teams pay $14.99 per month plus $14.50 per month for each additional team member.
  • Licensing: Canva offers multiple licenses based on the source of images. For 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.
  • Customer support: Canva support provides fast and helpful assistance to users through their various channels including live chat, email, and help center resources. Their customer service team is knowledgeable and courteous, making for a positive overall experience.
  • Additional features: Canva’s additional features provide a more comprehensive design experience, offering a vast library of templates, elements, and design tools to customize graphics and marketing materials.
  • Free trial: There’s a 30-day free trial for the entire Canva suite (tools + photos).
  • Discounts: 23% subscription discount when you buy yearly instead of monthly.

Good cheap stock photos for bloggers


See Offer
on Depositphotos’ website
224 million
Image price
Free trial
10 images (7 days)

Our take: Depositphotos subscription prices start as low as $1.44 per image, even with the smallest subscriptions, compared to $4.90 at Shutterstock. But Depositphotos offers only a $5,000 indemnity with licenses. Read our full Depositphotos review »

Pros & Cons


  • 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


  • No custom packs (only available for enterprises).
  • Limited flexibility of on-demand options.
More Details
  • Image quality & variety: Depositphotos image quality and variety are mostly good, but it’s lacking compared to Adobe Stock and Shutterstock, especially for trending/new topics.
  • Price: Depositphotos subscription prices start at $24.92 per month for 30 images and up to $166.58 for 750 images, costing $1.44 to $0.22 per image. On-demand options are more expensive, available in sizes of 3, 11, 25, or 100 images, costing $2.99 to $14.00 per image. Extended licenses are much more expensive, costing $63.96–$89.00/image. You can also get Unlimited downloads subscriptions ($4.99/month) with access to 1.3 million files.
  • Licensing: Depositphotos offers Standard and Extended royalty-free licenses, almost identical to Shutterstock’s. The only difference is that Depositphotos offers much lower indemnity—only $5,000 for both.
  • Customer support: The customer is one of the best stock photo sites. The live chat is knowledgeable and replies very fast, while the response from email takes one to three business days.
  • Additional features: Depositphotos’ stock library is integrated into the VistaCreate editor. The site also has a free background remover from images and videos, an image upscaler, and an API.
  • Free trial: The free trial last only 7 days, but you can get 10 royalty-free images with the 25 images/mo plan.
  • Discounts: 16% discount on yearly subscriptions compared to monthly. 73.5% discount when picking the largest subscription plan of 750 monthly downloads compared to the smallest one. Up to 78.6% discount on bulk purchases with on-demand packs (11, 25, or 100 images) compared to the smallest (3 images). 28.1% discount by buying Extended License in bulk (25 images). On average, a 30% discount for buying videos in bulk (25 videos) and a 33% discount for buying Extended licenses for videos in bulk. Read more about Depositphotos discounts »

Best stock photo subscription


See Offer
on Shutterstock’s website
433 million
Image price
Free trial
10 images, 1 video, 2 music tracks (30 days)

Why is Shutterstock the best stock photo subscription: Shutterstock’s All-in-one subscription lets you download photos, videos, and audio tracks under one affordable plan, costing $0.22+ per image and even having the free trial.

Pros & Cons


  • The largest collection of stock images (433 million)
  • 30-day free trial with 10 images worth $29
  • Wide variety of buying options.
  • Big discounts with the annual prepaid plans.


  • Editorial images are expensive ($99.50–$199)
  • Enhanced License affordable only when bought in bulk
More Details
  • Image quality & variety: At over 433 million stock images and thanks to the strict review processes, Shutterstock’s image qualtiy and variety remain unmatched. In our experience, images are rarely similar to each other and do not come from the same photoshoot. Shutterstock adds over 100,000 new images weekly, ensuring that the library remains fresh. Currently, Shutterstock has 242 million photos, 92 million vectors, and 143 million illustrations (some of these overlap), as well as over 50 miilion editorial images, covering news, sports, entertainment, and archives.
  • Price: Compared to other stock photo websites, Shutterstock is not expensive at all, being on par as most alternatives. The recently-updated Shutterstock pricing unified buying image, videos, and audio tracks under one subscription plan. All-in-one subscriptions are available with monthly, annual, and annual prepaid commitments and in six sizes, costing $25 to $249 per month (equivalant to $0.22 to $4.99 per image). Another option is to use on-demand packages, where images cost $9.16–$14.50 and $67.96–$99.50 for the Enhanced license.
  • Licensing: All Shutterstock images are licensed under a comprehensive royalty-free (RF) license (it’s included with every purchase; even the free trial). There are two types of the RF license available: the Standard and Enhanced. The Standard license is ideal for commercial use and on blog or social media, providing $10,000 indemnity, while the Enhanced license is the best for merchandise, providing $250,000 indemnity.
  • Customer support: Shutterstock customer support is available through live chat, phone call, and email. You can also find help through the help page, which answers most common questions. All types of customer support respond very quickly. However, we noticed that the sales team often tries to upsel a higher tier package than needed.
  • Additional features: Most notably, Shutterstock offers Creative Flow access for free with an active subscription. This is a tool similar to Canva but less comprehensive. Shutterstock also has API for developers, WordPress plugin, and Adobe Creative Cloud add on.
  • Free trial: 30-day free trial, during which you can download 10 royalty-free images. You keep the images even if you cancel the trial and pay nothing.
  • Discounts: 20% discount if you buy an annual subscription instead of a monthly subscription, and a 33% discount if you make an annual prepaid commitment. 32.4% discount if you buy 5 standard images on demand instead of 2, and 37% discount if you buy 25 standard images with demand plans. 10% discount if you buy 5 Enhanced images instead of 2, and a 32% discount if you buy 25 Enhanced images.

Good for cheap premium stock images


See Offer
on iStockphoto’s website
150 million
Image price
Free trial
10 images (30 days)

Our take: iStock is the only stock photo site that offers premium images (called Signature) with subscriptions, costing as little as $0.44 per download, compared to Shutterstock’s offset, that cost at least $211. Read our full iStock review »

Pros & Cons


  • 150 million images.
  • The Signature collection is of superb quality.
  • Competitive prices.
  • 10 images with the free trial.


  • Signature images are a lot more expensive.
  • Very expensive extended license.
  • Very poor customer support.
More Details
  • Image quality & variety: iStock divides images into two collections: Standard (Essentials) and Premium (Signature). The Signature collection is composed of technically better images that look more professional. It’s like buying Getty Images with subscriptions, while the Essentials are good for everyday use.
  • Price: Essential images cost $0.22–$4.00 with subscriptions, while Premium images cost $0.44–$9.90. You can also get images on-demand with credits, costing $8 to $12 per credit, where Essentials cost 1 credit and Signatures 3 credits.
  • Licensing: iStock licensing is virtually the same as Shutterstock’s licensing: The Standard License grants you up to 500,000 copies and $10,000 indemnity, while the Extended License grants you unlimited copies and up to $250,000 indemnity.
  • Customer support: It is very rare even to get a response from the iStock customer support team.
  • Additional features: Search Trends lets you browse the current visual trends by region, industry, and over time.
  • Free trial: The free trial last 30 days, and you can get 10 royalty-free images.
  • Discounts: 16.5% discount when you buy annual subscriptions instead of monthly (valid for Basic and Premium subscriptions. This discount is increased to 24% for Premium + Video subscriptions. 92% discount when you buy the largest Basic subscription plan instead of the smallest, 94% for the Premium subscriptions, and 53% discount for the Premium + Video subscriptions.

Summary: Cheap stock photos

Stock photo agencyOur ratingPricePhotos
Envato Elements4.7/5.0$11.50–$39.00/mo7.5 million
Canva4.6/5.0$9.99–$12.99/month110 million
Depositphotos4.8/5.0$0.22–$14.00/image224 million
Shutterstock5.0/5.0$0.22–$14.50/image440+ million
iStock4.8/5.0$0.22-$9.90/image140+ million

Expensive vs. cheap stock photos

Some of the best stock photo sites are also the ones that offer cheap stock photos. The main difference between cheap and expensive stock photos is rarely the quality. Instead, inexpensive stock photography is usually related to three factors:

  1. Licensing: The more comprehensive the stock photo license, the more expensive it gets. Therefore, the Extended licenses usually sell for $50+, while the Standard RF licenses sell for as low as $0.20 and up to $20.
  2. Buying options: Inherently, subscriptions are cheaper than buying stock photos on-demand. And if you pick an unlimited downloads subscription, like Envato Elements, you get incredible value for the subscription fee.
  3. Bulk discounts: The more stock photos you buy at once or the bigger the subscription plan, the lower the price per photo. In stock photography, the bulk discount is extreme and can reach north of 90%. For example, the monthly subscription of 10 downloads/mo at Shutterstock costs $4.90/image, while the annual prepaid of 750 downloads/mo costs $0.22 per image.

That is not to say that there aren’t any cheap stock photo sites not worth buying from. In fact, there are lots of them—the ones in this list are the cherry-picked unicorns that we found, used, and loved.

Best discounts for cheap stock photos

If you want to buy the cheapest stock images, it’s imperative you have a good overview of their pricing options. For your convenience, we tested and reviewed all notable stock photo sites to find their best offers and how to combine them to buy cheap royalty-free images.

1. Envato Elements (71% off)

The best discount you can get at the already affordable Envato Elements is 71%. For $39.00 a month, you get a monthly subscription that grants you unlimited downloads of over 13 million. If you pay yearly, you get a 57% discount and pay only $16.50 a month. On top of this, eligible students get a 30% discount and pay just $11.50 a month.

2. Canva (23%)

Canva’s discounts are probably the least impressive. For $9.99 a month, you get a yearly subscription to Canva Pro, reduced from $12.99. Eligible students and teachers get a free Canva Pro account, while there’s a free-forever account available to everyone.

3. Depositphotos (98.7%)

The highest price for a royalty-free image at Depositphotos is $14.00. If you buy images with subscription plans of 750 monthly downloads instead and you pick a yearly commitment, you pay only $0.22 per image. In addition, you can apply a 15% Photutorial discount to get them for as low as $0.187/image.

But since we recommend Depositphotos to bloggers thanks to the relatively affordable smaller subscriptions, you won’t be looking for 750 monthly downloads.

4. Shutterstock (98.7%)

Shutterstock’s discounts are almost identical to Depositphotos. The main difference is that the cost per image starts at $14.50, but the lowest price is the same. You get the same bulk subscription discount, annual prepaid discount, and the 15% coupon.

5. iStock (98.5%)

iStock’s discounts are similar to Shutterstock’s and Depositphotos’. The starting price per image is $12.00 and you can get bulk subscription discounts, annual prepaid discount, and a higher 20% discount as a newcomer.

How we calculated the highest discount? The highest discount is the difference between the highest possible price vs. the lowest possible price you could pay for an identical image with an identical license. Formula: Discount = [(lowest_price)/(highest_price)-1]×100%

Cheap stock photos FAQs

What is the cheapest stock photo site?

The cheapest stock photo site right now is Envato Elements. This diverse platform offers unlimited downloads of 13 million assets for $16.50 per month. It offers a 57% discount with the annual subscription and an additional 30% off for students.

How much should a stock photo cost?

Stock photos cost $1.00 to $1.50 on average, but you can also get them much cheaper than this. Envato Elements offers unlimited downloads of stock photos for $16.50 per month. If you download 100 per month, you will pay only $0.16 per stock photo.

Can you get free stock images?

Yes, there are several free stock photo sites. Although you may use them commercially, they are not the best for that since you don’t get any legal coverage.

What is the cheapest extended license site?

You can buy the cheapest extended licenses at Dreamstime for as low as $16 when you combine the extended license subscription with our 30% discount.

Rating methodology

Photutorial’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest budget-friendly stock photo sites. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help equip you with the information to make sound, informed judgments on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers, and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).

Our top picks for cheap stock photos:

  1. Envato Elements
  2. Canva
  3. Depositphotos
  4. Shutterstock
  5. iStock


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