Shutterstock vs. Envato Elements (2023)

Looking at two popular choices for images, videos, and audio: Shutterstock or Envato Elements?

By Matic Broz, the editor-in-chief with 10+ years of experience with design, stock media and licensing, and photography.

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Shutterstock vs. Envato Elements

The main differences between Shutterstock and Envato Elements are the size of their collections, the pricing and subscription models, and the specific types of content they offer. Shutterstock has a larger collection and offers separate subscriptions and packs for different types of content, while Envato Elements has a smaller collection and offers one subscription with unlimited downloads of all assets.

  • Pick Shutterstock if: you’re not limited by budget and can comfortably spend $29+month on images and even more on videos. Get 10 images free »
  • Pick Envato Elements if: you need a large volume of downloads or can’t afford to spend more than $16.50/month. Get 7 days of free downloads »

Shutterstock vs. Envato Elements: At a glance

ShutterstockEnvato Elements
Shutterstock logoEnvato elements logo
Photutorial rating5.0/5.04.8/5.0
Best forLarge-budget website owners, professional editors and designersEntrepreneurs, creative individuals, video editors, WordPress developers, graphic designers
Payment modelSubscriptions, on-demandSubscriptions
$16.50–$39.00/month for unlimited downloads
Free trial
Annual discount (57%)
Photutorial discount (70%)
Student discount
LicensingRoyalty-free (standard, extended)Royalty-free (standard)
Indemnity$10,000/$250,000up to $645
Free trial30 days of All-in-one (worth $29.90)12 free files per months
ProsThe largest collection of stock images (434 million)
30-day free trial with 10 images worth $49
Wide variety of buying options.
Big discounts with the annual prepaid plans.
Unlimited downloads with no daily limits.
Assets can be used commercially.
Simple licensing.
Plans for individuals, teams, and enterprises.
ConsContent packs need to be bought for each content type separately
Editorial images are expensive ($99.50–$199)
Enhanced License affordable only when bought in bulk
One of the lowest indemnities in the industry.
After unsubscribing, you cannot use creative assets for new projects.
A small collection of photos and videos compared to other stock agencies.
No refunds.
ReviewsShutterstock reviewEnvato Elements review
30-day free trial
Try Shutterstock
Get 70% off the first monthTry Envato Elements

Shutterstock is the most popular stock photo site, with over 300K subscribers and more than 440 million stock images. However, Envato Elements is also extremely popular among creators due to its affordable prices and a wider selection of creative assets. In this article, I will compare Shutterstock vs. Envato Elements based on facts, my own experience, and what fellow creators think, thus giving you a complete overview.

Quality and variety

When it comes to choosing between Shutterstock and Envato Elements, think of it less as a numbers game and more as selecting the ambiance that fuels your creativity. Shutterstock is like an overwhelming library with 434 million images—perfect for professionals in need of a very specific visual. Envato Elements, however, is a curated space with 8.1 million images, ideal for those who value quality and don’t want the hassle of endless scrolling.

Don’t write off Envato when it comes to videos and music, either. Its 4.2 million videos often come with customizable templates—a lifesaver for YouTubers and indie filmmakers. The platform also boasts a whopping 145,000 tracks compared to Shutterstock’s 30,500, turning your content into a rich auditory experience.

Where Envato truly rocks, the stage is in sound effects and templates, offering an astonishing 629,000 sound effects to Shutterstock’s 16,000 and a library of 461,000 templates. This is particularly attractive for game developers or bloggers who require top-notch sound design or visually appealing layouts without much fuss.

Quality and variety

Creative asset typeShutterstockEnvato Elements
Images434 million8.1 million
Videos29.2 million4.2 million
Music30,500 (+26,600 at Premium Beat)145,000
Sound effects16,000629,000
3D1.1 million at Turbosquid, 196,000 at Pixelsquid183,000
Editorial1 million/
WordPress themes & plugins/5,400

Both platforms sprinkle in unique features like 3D assets, editorial content, and WordPress tools. So, your choice ultimately depends on what exactly you’re looking to create. If portability—metaphorically speaking—is your thing, and you’re a content creator who values easy customization and a broad range of music and sound effects, Envato Elements may be more up your alley. But if you need the exhaustive breadth of options and don’t mind the extra ‘weight,’ then Shutterstock is your go-to.


Shutterstock and Envato Elements have very different pricing systems.

Shutterstock offers subscriptions that allow you to download any type of assets and on-demand packs sold separately for different types of assets like images, videos, music, and editorial images. This allows flexibility regarding what content you need and how long.

In comparison, Envato Elements has one type of subscription that grants you unlimited downloads of all Envato creative assets, including images, videos, audio, music, templates, and more. You can get it with a monthly commitment of $39.00 or much cheaper with a yearly commitment of $16.50 per month.

Verdict: Envato Elements is overall much cheaper and better for creatives who need lots of downloads.


While Shutterstock and Envato Elements offer royalty-free licenses for their content, their licensing policies differ significantly. Shutterstock offers four royalty-free licenses: Standard, Enhanced, Premiere, and Editorial. These licenses offer varying usage rights and legal coverage, with the Standard license offering up to $10,000 in legal coverage.

Envato Elements, on the other hand, has only one license option. While this simplifies the licensing process, it also means that users have less flexibility in terms of how they can use the assets they purchase. Most notably, the Envato license does not allow users to use assets for merchandise. Additionally, the legal coverage provided by the Envato license is significantly less than what is offered by the Standard license from Shutterstock, with only slightly above $200 in coverage.

Verdict: Envato’s license is much easier to understand but also more limiting and provides a smaller indemnity.

The verdict

If neither Shutterstock nor Envato Elements convinced you, you can read our picks for the best Shutterstock alternatives and Envato Elements alternatives. You can also look broader and browse the best stock photo or video sites.

Here are the best ways to start with Envato Elements:


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