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Shutterstock Review 2022

What to Know Before You Buy

Matic BrozUpdated May 19, 2022

Our Verdict

Shutterstock offers over 390 million stock images with impressive quality. If you want high-quality stock images, videos, or editorial photos, this stock photo site is one of the best options you can find, especially for businesses that emphasize visual content. You can also download 10 free images during the 30-day trial period.


  • 390+ million images, which guarantee extraordinary variety and excellent quality.
  • Excellent image quality and variety, comparable to those of premium stock photo sites.
  • Integrations simplify workflow by allowing you to browse all Shutterstock assets from specific apps.


  • Misleading free trial terms may catch some off-guard (you need to cancel 2 days in advance).
  • Unflexible on-demand options because packs are sold separately for every type of content.

Best Overall


on Shutterstock’s website


rating 5-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Images389 million
Extended license$67.96-$99.50
Free trialYes (10 images)

Coupon Code – 25%

You can get up to a 25% discount on every purchase by using a coupon at the checkout. It’s available for new and existing customers. Learn more

Who Is Shutterstock Best For?

Shutterstock is the best option for users who need a great variety of stock images at affordable prices. Because of the wide array of pricing options, everyone can find the right plan for their needs. Shutterstock sells extended licenses cheaper (from $67.69) than most popular alternatives, such as iStock (from $144), Adobe Stock ($79.99), and Depositphotos (from $63.96).

  • Suitable for individuals: Shutterstock sells stock images at very reasonable prices so that individuals can buy them too. You can always use a coupon code to lower the costs, or you can even get 10 images for free with the free trial. But if you need more than 10 images per month, Depositphotos is the better choice because the subscriptions with 25–75 images per month are much cheaper.
  • Best for medium-to-large businesses: At 350–750 images per month, Shutterstock is priced the same as all its competitors, but because of its enormous image selection, you’ll never run out of fresh content.
  • Best for (several) enhanced licenses: Enhanced (or Extended) licenses are comparably cheap at Shutterstock, starting at $67.96. But Shutterstock’s enhanced licenses are affordable only if you buy in bulk (5 or 25)—if you buy a single enhanced license, it’s more expensive elsewhere.

Related: Best stock photo sites

Best Shutterstock Alternatives

Although Shutterstock is one of the best stock photo sites (ranked # 1 on Photutorial’s list), it doesn’t excel in every aspect. Some of the best Shutterstock alternatives include Adobe Stock, iStock, and Depositphotos.

  • Adobe Stock vs. Shutterstock: While both offer integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Stock is already built-in, while Shutterstock requires you to download a plugin first. And even then, it’s occasionally slow or laggy. Adobe Stock also offers a much larger free trial with 10, 25, or 40 images in the first month, depending on which subscription you choose. Adobe’s on-demand options are also more flexible as you can buy all content with credits, whereas Shutterstock’s requires you to purchase credits for a specific type of content. Finally, Adobe Stock has a premium image collection that can be purchased with credits, while Shutterstock sells premium images separately at Offset.
    Related: Adobe Stock vs. Shutterstock.
  • iStock vs. Shutterstock: Both offer similar integrations, but like Adobe Stock, iStock has better on-demand options, where credits let you buy any asset. Regarding premium content, iStock is even better than Adobe Stock; you can buy all premium content (images, videos) with subscriptions that drastically drive down the price.
    Related: Shutterstock vs. iStock.
  • Depositphotos vs. Shutterstock: The major advantage of Depositphotos over Shutterstock is the smaller subscriptions. Subscriptions of up to 75 monthly downloads are much cheaper with Depositphotos, making it a better option than Shutterstock for bloggers, small businesses, and even individuals.
  • Getty Images vs. Shutterstock: Price is essential when choosing a stock photo site, and Getty Images is very expensive. It’s better than Shutterstock for those who need simple licensing or a rights-managed license.
    Related: Shutterstock vs. Getty Images.

Best for Graphic Designers


on Adobe Stock’s website


rating 5-0

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Extended license$79.99
Free trialYes (10, 25, or 40 images)
ReviewAdobe Stock review

Best for Commercial Use


on iStock’s website


rating 4.5

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Extended license$144–$216
Free trialYes (10 images)
ReviewiStock review

Best for Bloggers


on Adobe Stock’s website


rating 4.5

Photutorial rating

Our ratings take into account a product’s benefits and coverage levels. All ratings are determined solely by our editorial team.

Extended license$63.96–$89.00
Free trialNo
ReviewDepositphotos review

How does Shutterstock work? [Buying Guide with questions and answers]

Our readers often ask us how they can use Shutterstock and which purchase option is best for their situation. In this section, we address the most common questions.

➥ Click here to start your 30-day free trial (credit card required).

1. I need photos for my website/blog. What do I choose?

Websites usually need images regularly, so an annual subscription is the best option. Depending on how many images you need, you can choose between 10, 50, 350, and 750 monthly downloads. In our experience, most website owners opt for 50 and 350 monthly downloads. If you need around 100-200, choose the larger subscription (350 images/month), as it costs only slightly more than the smaller subscription. In addition, the standard license you get with subscriptions is enough for your website if you don’t plan to use images for resale.

2. I run a media agency, and we need many images.

The largest pre-made subscription you can get is 750 monthly downloads, which for teams of 10 members costs $479/month. If you’re part of a larger plan, get an enterprise plan by getting in touch with Shutterstock.

3. When do I need an enterprise plan?

An enterprise plan is necessary when you share images with other team members (teams of 10+ members) or when you need a custom solution, such as over 750 monthly downloads, API, VIP customer service, and more.

4. I want to use an image for resale (print T-shirts, mugs, etc.). Which license should I get?

You need an extended license when you use a standalone file for resale, such as printing the image on anything and then selling this item. “Standalone file” means an unchanged file or a file that wasn’t incorporated into a bigger design.

5. Can I upload the downloaded image to another stock photo site?

No, you may not resell the image anywhere or claim its ownership unless you get explicit permission from the author.

6. I’m working on a project for a client.

If you won’t give images directly to the client, you may use the standard license, which is included in subscriptions and image packs. For example, a graphic designer creating graphics for a client may use the images they get from subscriptions or image packs.

Company Overview

Shutterstock is a renowned stock photo agency that offers royalty-free licenses for stock images (385M+), videos, music, and fonts. It works by accepting contributors’ content via its “Shutterstock Contributor program” and then offering it to customers that pay for the licenses. Shutterstock and the contributors then split the earnings.

INDUSTRYStock photography, stock footage, stock music
FOUNDED2003; 19 years ago
FOUNDERJon Oringer
HEADQUARTERS350 Fifth Avenue, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10118, USA

Image Quality

Images on Shutterstock are available in three sizes-Small, Medium, and Large. All sizes come in 300 DPI (dots per inch). The Large image is always the original size, submitted by the contributor, and is the best quality available.

  • Small (S) has the shortest download time and is suitable for digital use.
  • Medium (M) is suitable for small prints and digital use.
  • Large (L) is the original file provided by the contributor. Suitable for large prints and digital use.

Shutterstock Pricing

Shutterstock sells stock photos with subscriptions (cheaper) and on-demand (more flexible). Royalty-free images cost $0.22–$14.50, while the enhanced license for images costs $67.96–$99.50. If you don’t know if Shutterstock is a good fit, you can use the free trial to get 10 free images in the first 30 days.

By using our coupon code, you can get a 25% discount on every Shutterstock purchase. This means getting stock images for as low as $0.165.

Standard license
Enhanced license
Coverage for 1 user
Autorenewal with an easy opt-out
Includes Editor Pro
Free trial?

Stock Images

Stock image subscriptions are the best options for you if you need stock images regularly, as they come with the lowest prices but bind you to a contract.

  • Price – $25–249/month ($0.22-$4.90/image).
  • Plan sizes – 10, 50, 350, and 750 images per month.
  • Plan durations – monthly, annual, and annual prepaid.
  • Teams (up to 10 members) – a subscription plan with 750 monthly downloads for $479/month, which includes tools for team planning and collaboration.
  • FLEX25 – you get 25 credits each month that you can use for 25 images, 3 video clips, or any combination of those. It is the best choice if you need both images and videos in small numbers.
  • More info – There’s no limit on image size or daily download limit with all subscriptions, but the unused downloads aren’t carried over to the next month. If you run out of downloads before the end of the month, you can wait until the next month, upgrade your subscription, or purchase on-demand packages.
Monthly downloadsMonthlyAnnualAnnual (prepaid)
10 images$49 ($4.90/image)$29 ($2.90/image)$25 ($2.50/image)
50 images$125 ($2.50/image)$99 ($1.98/image)$82 ($1.64/image)
350 images$199 ($0.57/image)$169 ($0.48/image)$137 ($0.39/image)
750 images$249 ($0.33/image)$199 ($0.27/image)$167 ($0.22/image)
FLEX 25$69 ($2.76/image)$49 ($1.96/image)$42 ($1.68/image)
Shutterstock subscription prices

Image packs are your best choice if you don’t need stock photos regularly, as they don’t tie you to a contract.

  • Price – you can choose between the standard license packages, which cost $29–$229 ($9.16–$14.50/image), and the more expensive enhanced license packages, which cost $199–$1,699 ($67.96–$99.50/image).
  • Plan sizes – 2, 5, and 25 credits for two types of licenses—standard and enhanced.
  • The cheapest image pack costs $29 ($14.50/image) for 2 images, while the most affordable option for the standard license costs $229 ($9.16/image).
  • Like a subscription, image packs are automatically renewed when you run out of downloads or when they expire. You can cancel this service on the order summary page or in your account settings after purchase.
Pack sizeStandardEnhanced
2 images$29 ($14.50/image)$199 ($99.50/image)
5 images$49 ($9.80/image)$449 ($89.80/image)
25 images$229 ($9.16/image)$1,699 ($67.96/image)
Shutterstock image pack prices


Stock footage subscriptions are the best option if you need stock videos regularly, as they come with the lowest prices but bind you to a contract.

  • Price – $79–669/month ($8.35-$37.80/video).
  • Plan sizes – 5, 10, and 20 videos per month.
  • Plan durations – monthly, annual, and annual prepaid.
  • FLEX25 – you get 25 credits each month that you can use for 25 images, 3 video clips, or any combination of those. It is the best choice if you need both images and videos in small numbers.
  • More info – There’s no limit on image size or daily download limit with all subscriptions, but the unused downloads aren’t carried over to the next month. If you run out of downloads before the end of the month, you can wait until the next month, upgrade your subscription, or purchase on-demand packages.
  • The most cost-efficient option is the annual prepaid subscription of 20 clips, costing only $8.35/video.
ClipsMonthlyAnnualAnnual (prepaid)
5 videos$189 ($37.80/video)$99 ($19.80/video)$79 ($15.80/video)
10 videos$359 ($35.90/video)$159 ($15.90/video)$133 ($13.30/video)
20 videos$669 ($33.45/video)$199 ($9.95/video)$167 ($8.35/video)
Flex25$69 ($23.00/video)$49 ($16.33/video)$42 ($14.00/video)
Shutterstock stock footage subscription prices

Video packs are your best choice if you don’t need stock photos regularly, as they don’t tie you to a contract.

  • Price – the price depends on the number of videos and the video quality: $299–$1,299 ($51.96–$59.80/video) for SD, $359–$1,579 ($63.16–$71.80/video) for HD, and $599–$2,299 ($91.96–$119.80/video) for 4K.
  • Plan sizes – 5, 10, and 25 videos.
  • Video quality – SD, HD, and 4K.
  • The cheapest video pack costs $229 ($51.96/video) for 5 SD videos, while the most cost efficient option is 25 SD videos for $1,299 ($51.96/video).
5 videos$299 ($59.80/video)$359 ($71.80/video)$599 ($119.80/video)
10 videos$549 ($54.90/video)$669 ($66.90/video)$999 ($99.90/video)
25 videos$1,299 ($51.96/video)$1,579 ($63.16/video)$2,299 ($91.96/video)


Music is available in a Flex25 plan (4 credits) or with an Unlimited music plan for $16.60/month. Alternatively, you can buy tracks individually for $49 apiece or $419 for the enhanced license.

How to Buy Shutterstock Images?

  1. Go to Shutterstock.com.
  2. Click Pricing in the top right corner.
  3. Click on the Buy now or Buy pack button.
  4. Sign in with your Shutterstock account
  5. Fill in your billing address and payment method
  6. Double-check the order summary
  7. Click Complete checkout.

Shutterstock Free Trial

Shutterstock offers a 30-day free trial that lets you download 10 stock images. The trial period is non-binding, and you won’t be charged until two days before the trial expires. But if you don’t cancel within the specified period, you’ll be charged a monthly fee.

How to Get the Shutterstock Free Trial?

  1. Go to Shutterstock

    You can click here for a safe redirect to Shutterstock’s free trial page.

  2. Click on Start your free trial.

    You can generally find the button at the top of the page above the menu.

  3. Create an account

    Enter your email address and password. Alternatively, you can sign in with Google or Facebook.

  4. Fill out your details.

    Now that you’re at the checkout page, you need to enter your payment information before you can activate the free trial. But don’t worry because you won’t be charged until the end of the trial.

  5. Click on Complete checkout.

If you didn’t get the free trial, enter code PICK10FREE in the “Modify your coupon code.”

Related: Best stock photo free trials

Shutterstock Coupons

You can get up to a 25% discount with Shutterstock coupons, thus reducing the price per image to $0.165. Also, Shutterstock offers various discounts around holidays. Both options also grant you access to over 1.7 million new pictures, videos, and music tracks uploaded every week and licensed, which keeps you legally protected and free from copyright issues.


Shutterstock offers four licenses: the Standard, Enhanced, Editorial, and Premier Licenses.

  • The Standard Shutterstock License is a type of royalty-free license that allows you to use stock images anywhere in the world forever. It limits you to 500K copies or impressions. You get the standard license whenever you download images with a subscription plan or a standard image pack.
  • The Enhanced Shutterstock License is also a type of royalty-free license, similar to the standard license but with unlimited distribution rights. It also comes with a higher indemnification ($250K) than the standard license ($10K). You can get an enhanced license by buying an enhanced license image pack.
  • The Editorial license is not a royalty-free license because you may only use the license once. If you want to use the same image again, you need to buy another license.
  • The Premier Shutterstock License comes with several benefits that are not available with the Standard and Enhanced Licenses. You get sensitive use rights, unlimited indemnification, use in merchandise and templates, high-res unwatermarked comps, and third-party right transferability. You can only get the Premier License by contacting Shutterstock’s customer service, which gives you access to Shutterstock’s Enterprise Platform.
Image usageStandardEnhancedEditorialPremier
You can get it withAll subscriptions plans, standard license image packsEnhanced license image packsEditorial image packsContact Shutterstock customer service
Web distributionUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Print500K copiesUnlimited500K copiesUnlimited
Package500K copiesUnlimitedUnlimited
Out of home advertising500K impressionsUnlimitedUnlimited
Video production$10K budgetUnlimitedUnlimited
DecorationPersonalPersonal, commercialUnlimited
The comparison of the Standard, Enhanced, Editorial, and Premier Shutterstock Licenses

Related: What does royalty-free mean?

You may not use images for

Shutterstock licenses must not be used for logos, trademarks, sensitive materials, or reselling with no significant modifications. To do any of those, you must get a custom license by contacting Shutterstock support.

How to choose the right license?

The Standard License is sufficient for most of your content needs, as you may use it indefinitely on the web and with up to 500,000 copies for printing and advertising. The enhanced license allows for larger reproductions and reprints, making it a better choice for high-volume customers and organizations. It’s also more suitable when you need higher legal backing, as it comes with $250,000 in legal indemnification.

Can I transfer licenses?

The basic standard and enhanced licenses are not transferable between different individuals. If your client needs a new design or a product, they must license the content independently or ask you to do the whole design. A far better option is the Shutterstock Enterprise License, which allows the content transfer. It is also called the Premier License.

Editorial license

Editorial content generally can’t be used for commercial purposes, but only for news articles and documentaries. This content usually represents brands, such as logos or slogans. Shutterstock’s collection of editorial content contains over 40 million images.

How much does the enhanced license cost?

Enhanced licenses cost between $67.96 and $99.50 per image. You can only purchase an enhanced license with enhanced image packs, which come in sizes of 2, 5, and 25, and cost between $199 and $1,699. The larger the image pack, the cheaper the enhanced license.

Customer Satisfaction

Despite being one of the largest stock photo sites, Shutterstock gets many bad reviews. It’s been rated 4.4/5.0 by 492 reviews on G2, 1.2/5.0 by 409 reviews on Sitejabber, and 1.2/5.0 by 1,742 reviews on Trustpilot. Shutterstock was rated 4.4 out of 5.0 by Photutorial based on the meticulously optimized in-house formula.

In most reviews, customers complain about misleading free trial terms, with which I agree. Although Shutterstock advertises a 30-day free trial, you need to cancel it two days before it ends so you will not get charged.

While Shutterstock blames that on processing times, it seems like preying on customers who don’t read the small print.

Additional Tools

Shutterstock Editor

Shutterstock’s Editor is a simplified version of any photo editing software. When you open the editor, it first prompts you to select the design dimensions with several presets for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

You can browse all Shutterstock’s images from the editor, helping you find the right image without downloading it first. If you don’t want to start from scratch, you can browse many free templates. Finally, you can add text and elements, like shapes, stickers, and symbols.

Shutterstock Image Editor Example
Example of the Shutterstock Image Editor in action. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Shutterstock promotes its Collage Maker as a separate tool, but it’s part of the Editor, where instead of freely choosing the setup, Shutterstock automatically recommends a collage-like template.

Mobile Apps

Shutterstock developed an app for Android and Apple devices, available at Google Play and App Store, respectively. The app allows you to browse, save, share, and download all Shutterstock content. Although most creatives work from PCs, some find inspiration while on the go, and having the apps on their phone allows them to do their work whenever the motivation kicks in.


An invaluable feature of stock image sites is integrations. Instead of downloading photos from Shutterstock and then uploading them to their favorite applications, Shutterstock users can use plugins to browse the images. Shutterstock supports WordPress integration, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Creative Cloud applications, Google Slides, Sketch, and Microsoft PowerPoint. Shutterstock’s Chrome extension, called Shutterstock Reveal, helps you find Shutterstock’s images by scanning any online image you want to use.

Image Resizer

Shutterstock’s Image Resizer is publicly available to everyone, not just Shutterstock’s users. You can use it to resize the images you download from Shutterstock’s database, although it works just as well with your photos.

Shutterstock Image Resizer
Using Shutterstock’s Image Resizer

File Converter

File Converter works more or less in the same way as the Image Sizer, but users can convert to JPEG, PNG, or TIFF instead of resizing.

Image Searching Tools

Shutterstock’s search tool used to be essential and lacked features before the update. Now, however, it is very sophisticated and intuitive, with several filters to help you find the desired content quickly.

Shutterstock filters
Shutterstock filters

Shutterstock gives you several ways to find the right images. You can search by Keyword, use Filters, Sort by freshness and relevance, and reverse image search. Which you choose is totally up to you, but the easiest way to find the right image is by starting with a Keyword Search and then using FIlter to narrow down the search. Sometimes you find an image on the internet that you like and want to use, but you don’t know where to find it. In this case, you can use the image to perform a Reverse Image Search and purchase it.

WordPress Plugin

In December of 2020, Shutterstock announced and released a WordPress plugin that you can use to upload images from Shutterstock from within your editor.

What is more, this plugin doesn’t only work with WordPress but also with WordPress VIP, a platform for giants such as Facebook or Spotify. You need to download the plugin and connect it to your Shutterstock account.

The best feature of this plugin is that you don’t need to purchase the image to see it live. Why not? Because there’s a live preview option that allows you to see what the image will look like on your website. Of course, it will be watermarked until you license it.

The Verdict

Shutterstock has a 5.0 Photutorial rating due to its largest stock image database, diverse pricing, a decent free trial, and excellent image quality and variety. Most customers complain about the free trial terms, which can indeed mislead since you need to cancel the free trial 2 days in advance.

➥ Click here to start your 30-day free trial (credit card required).

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Shutterstock legit?

Yes, Shutterstock is a legit and reliable choice for stock images thanks to encrypting all purchases, although it has a bad rating of 1.2 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot, based on 1,742 reviews. Most customers complain about the scammy free trial terms.

Is Shutterstock free to use?

No, Shutterstock is not free. Shutterstock licenses all of its content under royalty-free licenses, often misunderstood as “free.” Instead, it means that you don’t have to pay any additional royalties after you pay the initial fee.
Learn more

Does Shutterstock have a free trial?

Yes, Shutterstock has a 30-day free trial for 10 free images of your choice. You can get the free trial by purchasing a subscription plan with an annual commitment, but if you cancel before the trial ends, you pay nothing, and you keep all 10 free images.

Is Shutterstock’s free trial really free?

Yes, Shutterstock’s free trial lets you download 10 stock images during 30-days free of charge, without any commitment. If you don’t cancel the free trial before the free trial ends, you’ll be charged.

Why is Shutterstock so expensive?

Shutterstock stock images and videos are expensive because you pay for quality instead of quantity. The Shutterstock review team carefully curated all the content, which makes sure every image is valuable.

Can I use Shutterstock images for commercial use?

Yes, you may use Shutterstock images, except for those marked “Editorial Use Only,” in any creative project, such as print websites, ads, books, magazines, commercials, and brochures.

How much does Shutterstock cost?

Shutterstock royalty-free images cost $0.22–$4.90 when bought with a subscription and $9.16–$14.50/image when bought with image packs. Enhanced license images can only be bought with credit packs, costing $67.96–$99.50/image.

What is Shutterstock used for?

Customers use Shutterstock to buy royalty-free stock images, videos, music, templates, and 3D objects. Conversely, photographers and artists use Shutterstock to sell their work to customers by selling licenses and splitting the commission with Shutterstock. Shutterstock images are most commonly used to illustrate websites for graphics, personal projects, and marketing.

How much is a Shutterstock subscription?

Shutterstock subscriptions for images cost $25-$249/month, videos $42-$669/month, and music $16.60/month. Subscriptions come in different sizes and three commitment types, which determine the price of the plan and thus the cost per image.


Photutorial reviewed Shutterstock based on 14 data points in the categories of image quality and variety, pricing, licensing, image number, customer support, and additional features. Photutorial rated Shutterstock based on the weighting assigned to each category.

  • Image quality & variety: 20%
  • Pricing: 20%
  • Licensing: 20%
  • Image number: 15%
  • Additional features: 15%
  • Customer support: 10%

Within each category, we also considered several characteristics, the number of images per most popular searches, technical quality, and added value. We also looked at the variety of pricing plans, minimum, median, and maximum image prices, and free trial terms. Finally, we evaluated Shutterstock’s customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.

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.

Photutorial adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

About the author

Matic Broz profile image

Matic Broz is a photographer, graphic designer, and stock photographer. For over ten years he's been helping photographers improve their photos and graphic designers find the best images for their designs. His work has been featured by Lifewire and PetaPixel. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and petting random dogs. Read more

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