Shutterstock vs Shutterfly: What’s the difference?

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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Shutterstock vs Shutterfly


Company background: Shutterstock is a global provider of high-quality licensed photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music. Founded in 2003 by Jon Oringer, the platform has grown to become one of the world’s leading stock media companies. With a vast library of over 440 million images and over 25 million video clips, Shutterstock caters to a wide range of creative professionals and businesses around the globe.

Services offered: Shutterstock offers a diverse collection of stock media, including images, video footage, and music tracks. Their extensive library spans various industries and topics, providing users with an extensive range of options to choose from for their creative projects.

Subscription plans and pricing: Shutterstock offers various subscription plans to accommodate the different needs of its users. Customers can opt for monthly or annual plans, with options for a specific number of downloads per month or a more flexible plan with unlimited downloads. Additionally, Shutterstock provides on-demand packages for users who need stock media occasionally. The pricing structure caters to different budgets and usage requirements, making it accessible to a broad audience.
C. Target audience

Businesses and creative professionals: Shutterstock primarily caters to businesses, marketing agencies, graphic designers, content creators, and other creative professionals who require high-quality visual assets for their projects. Their content is suitable for use in advertising campaigns, websites, promotional materials, and more.

» More: Shutterstock review


Company background: Shutterfly, founded in 1999, is an American internet-based company specializing in photography, photography products, and image sharing. The company has become a popular destination for those looking to preserve their memories through high-quality prints, photo books, and personalized gifts. Shutterfly focuses on providing an easy-to-use platform, allowing users to create and order custom products featuring their cherished moments.

Services offered: Photo printing and personalized products: Shutterfly’s primary offering is its custom photo printing service, allowing users to create various personalized products such as photo books, calendars, greeting cards, home décor, and more. Shutterfly ensures that each product is crafted with care, providing users with a tangible and lasting way to display their memories.

Image sharing and storage: Shutterfly also provides free, unlimited, and secure photo storage for its users. The platform allows users to upload and organize their images easily, making it simple to share them with friends and family or use them to create custom products. With Shutterfly’s user-friendly interface, users can easily manage their photos and access them at any time.

Target audience:

  • General public, including families and individuals: Shutterfly’s services are geared towards a broad audience, including families, individuals, and hobbyist photographers looking to preserve their memories in a meaningful way. The platform’s simple-to-use design makes it accessible to users of all ages and skill levels.
  • Users interested in preserving memories and creating custom gifts: Shutterfly is an excellent choice for those who want to create personalized, high-quality products for themselves or as gifts for friends and family. With a wide range of customizable options and an easy-to-use design tool, users can create unique and memorable items that showcase their favorite moments.

Choosing the right platform

These are the factors to consider when choosing between Shutterstock and Shutterfly:

  • Purpose: Commercial vs. Personal. One of the main factors to consider when deciding between Shutterstock and Shutterfly is the purpose of your project. If you need high-quality visual assets for commercial use, such as marketing materials, websites, or promotional content, Shutterstock is the ideal choice. The platform provides a diverse library of stock photos, videos, and music that can be used for various commercial purposes. On the other hand, if your goal is to preserve personal memories and create custom photo products for yourself, friends, or family, Shutterfly is the better option, with its user-friendly platform for creating and ordering personalized prints and gifts.
  • Service offerings: Stock media vs. Personalized products. Another important factor is the type of service you require. Shutterstock specializes in providing a vast collection of stock media, making it an excellent resource for businesses and creative professionals who need visual assets for their projects. Shutterfly, however, focuses on offering custom photo printing and personalized products, catering to individuals looking to create tangible keepsakes of their cherished memories. Depending on your needs, one platform may be more suitable than the other.
  • Budget constraints. Budget is another critical consideration when selecting between Shutterstock and Shutterfly. Shutterstock operates on a subscription or on-demand basis, with pricing options designed to cater to different usage requirements and budgets. The cost of using Shutterstock depends on the type and number of assets you need, as well as the frequency of usage. Shutterfly, on the other hand, offers free unlimited photo storage and has a pay-per-product pricing model, allowing users to order custom items as needed. Comparing the pricing structures of both platforms can help you determine which option best suits your financial constraints.

Examples of use cases for both platforms


  1. A marketing agency needs high-quality images for a client’s advertising campaign.
  2. A graphic designer requires vector illustrations for a logo design project.
  3. A content creator needs royalty-free music to use in a YouTube video.
  4. A web designer is looking for striking visuals to enhance a client’s website.


  1. A family wants to create a personalized photo book to document their vacation memories.
  2. A couple is looking to print custom wedding invitations featuring their engagement photos.
  3. A new parent wants to design a unique birth announcement card with their newborn’s photos.
  4. An individual wishes to create a custom calendar showcasing their favorite moments from the past year.
    By taking into account factors such as purpose, service offerings, and budget constraints, you can make an informed decision about which platform—Shutterstock or Shutterfly—best fits your needs. Each platform offers unique benefits and caters to different audiences, so understanding your specific requirements will help you choose the right service for your project.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use Shutterstock images for personal projects like home decor or family albums?

Yes, you can use Shutterstock images for personal projects. However, keep in mind that Shutterstock’s primary focus is on providing stock media for commercial use, so the cost structure may not be as budget-friendly as platforms specifically designed for personal use, like Shutterfly.

Can I sell products featuring images from Shutterstock or Shutterfly?

With Shutterstock, you can use their images on products for sale as long as you follow the terms and conditions of their licensing agreement. However, with Shutterfly, the products you create are intended for personal use only and not for resale. Selling products featuring images from Shutterfly would violate their terms of service.

Are there alternatives to Shutterstock and Shutterfly for stock media and personalized products?

Yes, there are several alternatives for both stock media and personalized products. For stock media, you can explore other platforms like Adobe Stock, iStock, and Unsplash. For personalized products and photo printing services, some alternatives include Snapfish, Vistaprint, and Mixbook.

Can I use Shutterstock and Shutterfly together for my projects?

Yes, you can use Shutterstock and Shutterfly together for your projects. For example, you could download an image from Shutterstock and use it as a background or decorative element in a personalized product you create on Shutterfly. Just ensure you adhere to the licensing terms of Shutterstock when incorporating their images into your Shutterfly projects.


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