How to buy images from Shutterstock

Buying images from Shutterstock is easier than you thought.

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

Updated on | 0 Comments

If you buy something from a Photutorial link, we may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.
How to buy images from Shutterstock

With its massive library of over 434 million stock images, Shutterstock should be at the top of your list of royalty-free image sources. Founded in 2003, Shutterstock has become an industry leader by making licensing stock photography straightforward and affordable.

But navigating its vast collection and understanding the licensing specifics can be daunting, especially for first-timers. Follow our step-by-step instructions to set up an account, choose a plan, search for images, complete purchases, and legally use your downloads.

Follow these steps to buy Shutterstock images:

  • Go to the Shutterstock pricing page.
  • Figure out which license you need (Standard, Enhanced, Editorial).
  • Pick a pricing plan that fits your budget and needs.
  • Enter your payment information and Submit Purchase.
  • Find an image you like and download it.

» Did you know? You can get a 15% coupon code on all Shutterstock purchases.

How to buy a single image on Shutterstock?

You cannot buy one standard image from Shutterstock, but you can get one editorial ($199) or Offset ($249) image. If you need a few standard images, your best option is image packs, which come in sizes of 2, 5, or 25 images with either a Standard or Enhanced license.

» Also: Learn about Shutterstock licensing

Here is how you can do that:

  1. Go to the Shutterstock website: Open your preferred web browser and navigate to
  2. Create an account or log in: If you’re not already logged in, click on the “Sign In” button located at the top right of the screen. You can then either log in if you already have an account or click on “Create Account” to make one.
  3. Select ‘Buy Stock Images’: Once logged in, hover your cursor over the “Pricing” button located at the top right of the screen. A dropdown menu will appear. Click on the option that says “Buy Stock Images”.
  4. Choose an ‘On Demand’ plan: In the section titled “On Demand”, you’ll see various plans. These plans offer a specific number of images for a set price. Look for a plan that offers the minimum number of images possible if you only want to buy a single image.
  5. Proceed to Checkout: Click on “Buy Now” button under your chosen plan. You will then be redirected to the payment page.
  6. Enter payment information: Fill in your billing and payment details and then click on “Place Order”.
  7. Choose your image: After purchasing the plan, you can now browse the site for the image you want. When you’ve found it, click on it to open the image detail page.
  8. Download the image: Click on “Download” button on the right side of the image. This will deduct one download from your On Demand plan, and the image will start downloading to your device.

Remember, even though you have only downloaded one image, you have technically purchased the whole On Demand plan. This means you can still download the remaining images (as per the plan you chose) within the specified time frame of the plan.

Which license to pick?

Before purchasing from Shutterstock, you first need to decide which license type best suits your needs, as that will determine the ideal buying plan. Shutterstock offers a few different license options, each with its own usage rights, restrictions, and pricing. Choosing the right license for your specific project is crucial to stay legally compliant.

Here’s an overview of the major differences:

License TypeStandardEnhancedEditorial
Cost per image$0.22–$14.50$67.96–$99.50$99–$199
Get it withSingle purchase, subscription, image packsSingle purchase, image packsSingle purchase, editorial packs
Print runsUp to 500,000 copiesUnlimitedUp to 500,000 copies
Merchandise/ResaleNot permittedPermittedNot permitted
IndemnificationUp to $10,000Up to $250,000Up to $25,000
Best UsesBlogs, presentations, brochures, social media, small campaignsLarge print runs, advertising, merchandiseNews, documentaries, non-fiction

Learn more: Shutterstock licensing guide

Which buying option is the best?

Signing up is simple—just create an account, pick a plan, and enter your payment info. Then you can start building your media library. Navigate to and click Pricing in the top right corner.

Here is a summary table outlining the key Shutterstock subscription plans and on-demand options:

All-In-One Subscriptions– Recurring monthly plans with a set number of credits to download photos, videos, music, etc.
– Available in 10, 25, 50, 150, 350, and 750 credit allotments
– Monthly, annual billed monthly, or annual billed upfront options
– Free trial (10 images, 1 video, or 2 audio tracks)
Team Subscriptions– Recurring monthly photo subscription for teams
– 750 image downloads per month
– Up to 10 team members
– Flat monthly price
Image Packs– One-time purchase of 2, 5, or 25 images
– Standard or Enhanced Licenses
– Automatically renews when images are used
Video Packs– One-time SD, HD, or 4K video packs
– 5, 10, or 25 videos per pack
– Standard or Enhanced Licenses
Music Subscriptions– Unlimited downloads with monthly plans
– Essential and Premium options based on track library access
Music On-Demand– Individual music/sound effect track purchases
– Standard or Enhanced Licenses
Editorial Content– News, entertainment, archival images & video
– Individual purchases or 25-pack bundles

Select Your Plan

Subscriptions provide a recurring monthly allotment of credits for downloading assets. All-In-One plans offer credits for photos, video, music, and more. Team subscriptions give image downloads to multiple users. On-Demand allows one-time purchases of asset packs as needed. Pick your media type, license, pack size, and billing frequency.

Learn about Shutterstock pricing in depth

With a buying option chosen, it’s time to create an account. Enter your email and create a password. Check your inbox to confirm your email address and complete your profile. Adding details like your name, company, and address can speed up future purchases but isn’t required.

Finish up by entering your payment details. Shutterstock takes all major cards and PayPal. Double check your billing address matches your payment method. Once your purchase is complete, start building your media library- Downloads are based on the allotment from your selected plan. Switch plans or buy new packs anytime as your needs change.

How to find Shutterstock images

Once you’ve selected the ideal Shutterstock subscription for your needs, it’s time to start building your visual content library. With access to over 400 million high-quality stock photos and illustrations, you’re sure to find perfect visuals for your projects on Shutterstock. The site provides comprehensive search tools and AI-powered generators to easily discover and create the right images.

Get started by going to and clicking ‘Images’ at the top. Use the search bar to enter relevant keywords and phrases that describe what you need, such as “team meeting” or “food photography.” Refine your results using the filters on the left side of the page. Narrow your search by categories like business, technology, lifestyle; image types including photos, vectors, illustrations; number of people; orientation including horizontal, vertical, panoramic; and file types like JPG, PNG, EPS. For more options, click ‘Filters’ to refine by color, image size, age range and other attributes. Shutterstock’s robust search makes it easy to pinpoint the ideal images.

Browse the search results and click any image to enlarge it. View key details like licensing info and size. Click ‘Add to Cart’ to shortlist images you like. Use the lightbox in the upper right to gather and compare shortlisted images. Remove ones that no longer fit before proceeding to checkout.

If you want unique AI-generated visuals, Shutterstock’s image generator creates artistic interpretations from text prompts. Describe your desired image and let the AI generate options. Tweak prompts and styles until you achieve the look you want.

When ready, click ‘Items in Cart’ and then ‘Proceed to Checkout’ to confirm your image selections and complete payment. Subscribers will use their monthly image credits while others can enter payment info for on-demand purchases. Find your downloaded images in ‘My Downloads’, ready to use. With its robust search, intuitive interface, and AI creation tools, Shutterstock makes it easy to find and use the perfect stock images.

FAQs about buying from Shutterstock

How much does it cost to buy a Shutterstock image?

A Shutterstock photo costs between $0.22 and $14.50 with a Standard License. For an Extended license, the price ranges between $67.96 and $99.50 per image. Editorial images cost between $99 and $199.

Can you buy a one off image from Shutterstock?

Yes, you can buy a single image from Shutterstock, but it’s the most expensive way of buying from Shutterstock. Consider buying a subscription or an image pack to significantly reduce the price for one off images.


Leave a Comment