11 Cheapest Stock Photo Sites

Written by Matic Broz Updated on October 1, 2021

11 Cheapest Stock Photo Sites

By finding the cheapest stock photo site for projects, campaigns, and blogs, you can save more than 50% of your money.

Choose a large subscription plan is the best way to save money with stock photos. It’s generally the cheapest way to purchase them.

And here are my recommendations:

To get the lowest photos prices at any stock photo agency, you need to purchase the most extensive subscription plan. There’s a rule in the stock photography pricing system: the larger the plan, the more cost-efficient.

But there’s plenty of other stock photo sites.

Calculate the lowest prices

I developed my own calculator that recommends the cheapest stock photo sites and plans for you based on your needs. Here’s how it works:

You input the license type, plan type, plan duration, and the number of images you need. The calculator will automatically output the cheapest stock photo sites based on your input.

Give it a try:

Which type of a license?
Include discounts?
What kind of a plan?
How many images?
Plan duration?

The results from the Stock Photo Plans Calculator are based purely on math. The cheaper the agency, the higher it ranks – of course, based on your input parameters.

11 Cheapest Stock Photo Sites in 2021

Eleven websites offer affordable stock photos.

1. Dreamstime ($0.158/photo)

Dreamstime Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.16/photo
  • Library size: 152 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Dreamstime is my favourite stock photo site with the cheapest stock photos, and I warmly recommend it to everyone.

Since founded in 2000, Dreamstime has built a large library of superb stock photos sold at record-low prices. More importantly, this company takes special care of its customers and contributors, making it one of the highest-rated stock photo agencies.

Not only does it sell stock photos for almost a record-breaking $0.16/photo, but it also gives one of the highest commissions to its contributors, 60%. Why did I mention that? Well, contributors are photographers who provide the stock photos you buy, and if you treat them right, you’ll get better photographs.

To summarize the pricing, Dreamstime sells photos with subscriptions plans and on-demand. You can choose between several (7) subscription plans of 5, 10, 15, 25, 100, and 750 monthly downloads.

If you need more flexibility, I recommend credit packs that do not bind you to any contract, but the photos are consequently more expensive. You can choose credit packs of 11, 15, 30, 60, 120, 260, 500, 1,000, and 2,000 photos.

Dreamstime also offers one of the largest free trials with 15 free stock photos.

In conclusion, there’s no way you can go wrong with Dreamstime. If I were you and I had to choose right now, I’d pick Dreamstime for my go-to cheap stock photo source. What is more – I currently use Dreamstime for Photutorial, and I’m super happy with their service.

Related reading: Dreamstime review

2. Bigstock ($0.16/photo)

Bigstock review - Free trial left or right
  • Offers: Subscriptions (daily, monthly, trimonthly, yearly) and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.158/photo
  • Library size: 100 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Bigstock was founded in 2004 and acquired by Shutterstock 5 years later, in 2009. Ever since, it has flourished as one of the most inexpensive stock photo agencies.

Admittedly, Bigstock is priced at $0.001 below Dreamstime, but I listed Bigstock second because you need to purchase an abysmal amount of photos to get this price – 18,250 photos in one year.

This cheap stock photo agency has one of the most diverse stock photo plans offers, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, you have plenty of options to choose from and find one that best suits your needs. On the other hand, it isn’t easy to make sense of what’s what.

Long story short, you can buy images with either daily subscription plans of 5, 10, 20, or 50 images/day or monthly plans of 25, 50, 100, or 200 images/month. You can purchase each daily plan for 1, 3, or 12 months.

Another option is on-demand plans (10, 25, 100, 250, or 500 credits), which you can use to purchase photos whenever you please.

Related reading: Bigstock review

3. Stock Photo Secrets ($0.17/photo)

Stock Photo Secrets interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.165/photo
  • Library size: 6.8 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

StockPhotoSecrets is a little known stock photo site that sells stock photos on-demand and with subscription plans.

This stock photo agency was built with individuals and small to medium businesses in mind. Therefore, it offers plans that are specifically tailored to their needs.

You can get any of its 7 million stock photos for only $0.17 ($0.165 to be precise) with the largest subscription plan of 500 downloads per month. If you’re looking for the cheapest stock photos, you should reconsider their subscription plans.

But you don’t have to settle for these plans that bind you to either monthly or yearly contracts. There are a lot more flexible image packs of 5, 10, and 25 images. However, these plans come at a higher price per image, starting at $5.96/image.

Although StockPhotoSecrets isn’t the most renowned stock agency, you can rest assured that it’s a legitimate one – in other words, you won’t get scammed. I spoke to its creator a couple of times, and he’s a cool guy.

Related reading: Stock Photo Secrets review

4. 123RF ($0.18/photo)

123RF Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.21/photo
  • Library size: 110 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

123RF is a widely known stock photo agency that, as its name suggests, sells stock photos under a Royalty-free license. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot purchase an Extended license.

Like most stock photo agencies, 123RF sells its content, both with subscriptions and on-demand with credits.

The best prices come with annual subscription plans that range between 10 images/month and up to 750 images/month, priced between $0.19/image (with discount) and $3.00/image.

If you’re not prepared to commit for an entire year, you can choose more expensive but flexible monthly plans of 40, 90, 200, and 400 credits. These significantly reduce the price per Credit in comparison to single Credit purchases. Optionally, you can enter a custom number of credits, but you won’t get the for lower than $0.99/credit.

Related reading: 123RF review

5. Depositphotos ($0.21/photo)

Depositphotos Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.21/photo
  • Library size: 188 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

While Dreamstime is my favourite, Depositphotos is the favourite stock agency of several bloggers and news sites. It has an enormous library of 188 mil+ items and super-flexible subscription plans available for only $0.21/photo.

You can generally choose between less expensive subscription plans of 30, 75, 150, and 750 monthly image downloads or more expensive and more adaptable on-demand packs of 3, 10, 25, and 100 images. The pricing for subscription plans starts at $0.21/photos, while you can get on-demand packs from $2.99/photo.

Recently, Depositphotos introduced an even more alluring plan. You get unlimited downloads for $4.99/month from a collection of 694,860 files. Additionally, you can download any number of photos for free from a collection of 69.000 files.

Related reading: Depositphotos review

6. Shutterstock ($0.22/photo)

Shutterstock interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.22/photo
  • Library size: 350 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Do I even need to introduce Shutterstock? It is the most famous stock photo agency of our time, and with 350 mil+ images in the library for only $0.22 per image, it’s one of the best and cheapest stock photo agencies.

Shutterstock sells stock images, vectors, and other stock content with subscriptions and on-demand with credits. While the lowest prices come with the annual subscription plans, these offer the least flexibility.

On-demand packs, however, offer the most flexibility at the expense of higher prices. Using these, you can purchase Extended licenses and all the content on Shutterstock.

Additionally, if you still don’t trust Shutterstock, there’s a free trial during which you can download 10 free photos. Why would you say no to that? You can at least try it out.

Related reading: Shutterstock review

7. iStock ($0.22/photo)

iStock Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.22/photo
  • Library size: 133 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

iStock by Getty Images, previously known as iStockPhoto, is a father of microstock and one of the oldest royalty-free stock photo agencies.

iStock sells content with subscription plans with prices starting at $0.22 per image or with credit packs.

All content is divided into two collections, Essentials and Signature.

Essentials can be purchased with any subscription plan or credits, while you can only buy Signature with Premium subscription plans and credits. Additionally, Signature cost 3-times as much as Essentials, credits-wise.

Related reading: iStock review

8. Adobe Stock ($0.26/photo)

Adobe Stock Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $0.22/photo
  • Library size: 133 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Everyone knows Adobe – it’s the father of fantastic software, including Lightroom, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and After Effects, to name a few.

At $0.26/photo, Adobe Stock photos are somewhat more expensive than other stock photo sites. Still, it comes with the best feature for designers – Adobe Stock is fully integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud.

What does what mean? If you use any of the Creative Cloud apps, let’s say Photoshop, you can access Adobe Stock directly from Photoshop and edit watermarked images until you’re satisfied with your product.

And only when you’re done with it, you purchase the image to remove the watermark. How cool is this?

Related reading: Adobe Stock review

9. StockUnlimited ($4.69/unlimited photos)

StockUnlimited Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions and on-demand packs
  • Price: Starting at $4.69/unlimited photos
  • Library size: 1 mil+
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

I doubt that you’ve ever heard of StockUnlimited before. Still, in short, this is a small stock photo agency best known for its generous subscription plan – you only pay $4.69 per month to get an unlimited number of downloads from its selection of photos.

The unlimited downloads are not limited to photos only. You can also download any number of fonts, templates, and music files.

Related reading: StockUnlimited review

10. Desygner ($4.95/month for unlimited photos)

11 Cheapest Stock Photo Sites 1
  • Offers: Subscriptions
  • Price: Starting at $4.95/unlimited photos
  • Library size: 125 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Desygner is not a stock photo site, per se. However, it allows you to download unlimited stock photos each month. It has integrated a library of over 125 million Shutterstock stock photos. In addition, you can also access Unsplash, Pixabay, and Photodexia. You can also access Google photos, but I advise you against it.

You cannot download any photo directly, though. Instead, you need to use it within your designs first. But you don’t even need to change it all. You can create a blank template, add a photo you want, and download it as is. And that’s legal. The only thing you cannot do is download it directly.

Related reading: Desygner review

11. Canva Pro ($9.99/month for unlimited photos)

Canva Interface
  • Offers: Subscriptions
  • Price: Starting at $9.99/unlimited photos
  • Library size: 65 mil
  • Licenses: Royalty-free and Extended

Canva Pro is not technically a stock photo agency, but it’s rather an online design tool that has a built-in stock photo library of 65 million+ images.

That’s right, for a few dollars per month, you get access to Canva Pro hundreds of thousands of templates, fonts, and easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor, but also millions of stock images.

Speaking from my experience: I use Canva to create my Pinterest pins and an occasional infographic. Its stock photos are professional-looking and can be used for any commercial campaign. However, just like any other stock photo site, you soon run out of unique photos if you’re very niched down.

Related reading: Canva Pro review

Frequently asked questions

What is the cheapest stock photo site?

The cheapest stock photo site is Dreamstime. Royalty-free photos cost $0.168, and extended licenses cost $16.10. These prices are available with a 30% discount and the largest subscription plans.
Get the discount here »

How much do stock photos cost?

The price of stock photos varies between stock photo agencies, the plans and licenses under which they are sold, as well as their quality, exclusiveness, and value.

Is it illegal to use stock photos?

Using stock photos is legal as long as they are used within the license’s allowed uses. Allowed uses depend based on which stock photo license you purchased.

Cheapest Extended license stock photos?

The cheapest Extended license stock photo can be purchased at Shutterstock for only $9.16 per image. To get this price, you need to purchase the 25-image pack.

What is the cheapest way to buy stock photos?

The best way to buy the cheapest stock photos:
1. Go to Dreamstime and use a 30% discount.
2. Click on Prices and downloads plans in the top right corner.
3. Verify that you received the 30% discount.
4. Choose the plan that works the best for you. With the 750 monthly downloads plan, you get the best price of $0.158/image.
5. Enjoy your cheap stock photos.

Final thoughts

To sum, you can purchase the best and cheapest stock photos from Dreamstime for only $0.159 per photo. However, there is a lot of valid reasons to choose other agencies.

For example, Shutterstock is slightly more expensive ($0.22/photo) but has the largest stock photo library. On the other hand, Adobe Stock is quite expensive ($0.26/photo) but offers invaluable integration into the Creative Cloud, highly beneficial for any designer.

This sums my choice of the cheapest stock photo sites of 2021. I’ve also composed the list of overall the best stock photo sites. In this post, you’ll find every stock photo website I deem great, regardless of their price.

If you’re looking for free stock photos, you should check these: Best free stock photo websites.