Tuesday, April 19, 2011

21 Stock Photo Websites

Stock photography is needed whether you are a professional designer,  blogger, eBook author or app developer.

This fairly comprehensive list has websites for every level, from free sources through high end editorial content.

A few notes to help beginning users of stock photography...

There are 3 ways to purchase stock photo, subscription, credits or direct purchase. 
  • Subscription allows you to download any photo on the site during a period of time, usually limited by a daily cap. 
  • Credits are purchased in blocks. The credits can be used to download images. For most sites, an individual image can be downloaded in multiple sizes; larger images requiring more credit.
  • Direct purchase images are downloaded in a batch and paid for with credit card or PayPal
Licensing rights are managed in several ways.
  • Rights managed - images are purchased for a specific purchase and can only be used for a specific period of time. These images are typically time sensitive and rare, such as current events and celebrities.
  • Royalty free - a one time payment covers unlimited use and for an unlimited time.
  • Attribution - many free images are distributed with an attribution only license, meaning you must provide photo credits and/or links to the photographer. For details about many types of free licenses, visit www.creativecommons.org.
  • Public domain - these images are free to use without restriction. Either the copyright has expired or the original copyright holder has given up all rights.
Paying attention to licenses is important. I know of two websites that were charged big dollars for copyright infringement by using stock photography without the license. Sometimes the copyright holder will simply ask you to remove the image. One of our clients was asked to remove the image and pay a $1,200 retroactive usage fee to Getty images. With reverse image searching technology, copyright holders have new tools to find and enforce illegal image use. It's no longer acceptable to go to Google Images and grab your favorites for your blog.

Prices and quality of images vary widely. We strongly recommend choosing sources for images based on project and budget. The following list, therefore, is in no particular order. 

21 Stock Photography Sources


Dreamstime – www.dreamstime.com
  • Use credits or subscription
  • Some free images, registration required
  • Royalty free and licensed images available
  • Credit packages start at $9.95
  • Subscriptions with daily limits range from $44.99 to $3,739.99
  • Accepts credit cards and Paypal
  • Active community with message boards and blogs
  • Sell your images for 30-60%

Stock.xchng – www.sxc.hu
  • Free images, registration required
  • Limited number of photos, but all free
  • Owned by Getty images
  • Blog with photo tutorials

Veer – www.veer.com
  • A few free images and fonts updated each week
  • Free trial with 10 free credits
  • Credit packages start at $16.92
  • Stock photography, illustrations and fonts
  • Interesting merchandise selection for typography geeks
  • Caters to designers

MorgueFile – www.morguefile.com
  • Free images placed in public domain
  • Images are donated by creators
  • Good search feature includes keywords, categories, size and color among others
  • Small community with forums, etc
  • Supported by advertising and Amazon shop

FreeFoto – www.freefoto.com
  • Free images for web use, attribution required
  • Free images may be licensed starting at $30
  • Categoriezed, but poor search functionality
  • Images may be purchased as prints or cards
  • Images may be sent as free ecards

DepositPhotos – www.depositphotos.com
  • Stock photo by credits or subscription
  • Subscriptions with daily download limits range from $19 - $1,600
  • Seven day free trial with 5 image per day limit
  • Purchases with credits range from $0.50 - $9
  • Sell your images for 40-60%

Istockphoto – www.istockphoto.com
  • Sells photos, illustrations, video, audio and flash files
  • Credit packages start at $18.50
  • Subscription with daily limits start at $699
  • Minimum subscription is 3 months
  • Sell photos for 15% or exclusive rights for 45%
  • Largest traffic photo site
  • owned by Getty images

ShutterStock – www.shutterstock.com
  • Huge collection, nearly 15 million photos and illustrations
  • HD footage organized by category
  • Subscriptions start at $249
  • Blocks of five high-res images can be purchased for $49
  • HD footage blocks start at $149 per 5

Getty Images – www.gettyimages.com
  • offers royalty-free and rights managed images, footage, and music
  • extremely timely images of celebrities, news events, and sports events
  • has many exclusive contracts with events
  • rights-managed images are purchased based on intended use and duration
  • worldwide offices to answer rights management questions and help find images

BigStock – www.bigstockphoto.com
  • Photos and vector images sold by credits
  • Credit packages start at $15
  • Pays $0.50 per credit spent to contributors
  • By ShutterStock, less expensive collection

Corbis Images – www.corbisimages.com
  • Rights managed and royalty free images
  • Editorial section featuring celebrities, current events, fine art and archival images
  • Nice fine art collection featuring Andy Warhol, Ansel Adams, Smithsonian Institution, Philadelphia Museum of Art and more.
  • Exclusive celebrity portraits
  • Comps available

  • Getty images subscription site featuring mid range royalty free photos
  • Subscriptions are $299 per month or $199 per month paid annually
  • Comps available

Jupiter Images – www.jupiterimages.com
  • Jupiter was the parent company of Photos.com, but recently merged with Getty images
  • Combines 50 websites of rights managed and royalty free images
  • Images start at $49

Stock Vault – www.stockvault.net
  • Free image collection provided by contributors
  • Texture and background images for sale through texturevault.com
  • Partnered with Square Space, a high end blogging platform

Free Digital Photos – www.freedigitalphotos.net
  • Offers images for sale from contributors starting at $3
  • Web sized images are available free with attribution required
  • Payment by image rather than using credits

Free Vectors – www.freevectors.org
  • Small collection of about 1,200 vector images
  • All free for commercial use
  • Liberal license with no attribution required
  • You may also download 1,000 vectors for $14.90 via Paypal, convenient way to download all vectors at once and support the site

Every Stock Photo – www.everystockphoto.com
  • Search engine for free photos
  • Over 9 million photos searched on many different websites
  • Because photos come from different sources, licensing varies
  • Searches Library of Congress, NASA, Flickr, Wikimedia and other photo sites

Free Range – www.freerangestock.com
  • Free stock photography, much of it from in-house photographers
  • Ad supported
  • Images up to 2400x1600
  • Registration required

Photo Rack – www.photorack.net
  • Free photos
  • Photos are categorized, but not easily searchable
  • No attribution required
  • No login required
  • Ad supported

Photos.com – www.photos.com
  • Mid range photo subscription site
  • Owned by Getty images
  • Photos.com was one of the early subscription stock image sites. For some industries their collection is overused.

Clipart.com – www.clipart.com
  • Collection of clipart, illustrations, web size photos and fonts
  • Low end subscription service, only $159.95 per year
  • Owned by Getty images
 Twenty-one websites will certainly cover most demands. However, there are many others. If you know of a stock image service worth mentioning, feel free to link it in the comments below.

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