Royalty free stock photos are those where the price never changes – it stays the same no matter when the image is used or how many times it used. So, when purchasing royalty free images that means you can use them without any limitations and this is why top stock photography sites that sell royalty free pictures are so popular today. These types of images come in handy for anyone in the publishing field, whether it’s online or offline publishing. Here are our favorite top 10 stock photography websites and services.
Fotolia – Has over 7 million photos and illustrations, more than 470,000 vectors to search through, and 1.5 million members to socialize with. Registering is free, quick and easy. They are known as “the first worldwide social marketplace for royalty free stock images, allowing individuals and professionals to legally buy and share stock images and illustrations”. Plus they have one of the largest royalty free image banks of reasonably priced photos and illustrations. Their collections are frequently updated on a daily basis. The majority of photos and illustrations in provided in JPG format. As far as purchasing images, they use a credit system; one credit is equal to $1 USD. When purchasing credits you must purchase a minimum of 10 credits/$10 USD. Credits expire after one year. After purchasing images, you have 72 hours to download it or the download link will expire. Alternately, they also offer subscriptions plans for a flat rate that can be paid every 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, or every year. Plans vary based on the type of subscription you choose (standard or premium), the number of subscription users you’ll have (1, 3, unlimited) and the amount of downloads you’ll need per day (25, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250). Single user standard plans will run you anywhere from $199/month to $249/month or $1,649/year to $2,061/year for 25 downloads per month.
iStockPhoto – The Internet’s “original member-generated image and design community”. They offer millions of royalty-free photographs, vector illustrations, video footage, audio tracks and Flash files from over 70,000 worldwide artists. Their photos range from $1 (for XS sized photos) to $27 (for XXX Large sized photos). Their illustrations range from $1 (for basic) to $24 (for elaborate). Their credit system allows you to purchase “pay-as-you-go” packages which range from $18.00 (for 12 credits) to $1900 (for 2000 credits). Credits expire after 1 year. Alternately you can purchase one of the following subscription plans: $.30/file for 3 months (from $979 to $12,783); $.28/file for 6 months (from $699 to $24,288); $.26/file for 1 year (from $1299 to $46146). The total cost of your subscription plan will depend on how many daily credits you choose to have per day. Subscriptions credits expire daily at midnight MST.
Getty Images – A leading worldwide supplier of digital media such as stock photography, editorial images, classic archival footage, music and multimedia. They even offer entertainment videos and commercial-quality clips that can be used for all types of projects. All images are provided in compressed JPEGs formatting (except for EPS files). Image pricing depends on the type of licensing you will need for that image. Prices for royalty-free images, footage clips and other items are calculated based on the file size of the item. Subscriptions are also available, which allow 25 downloads per day. A regular subscription gives you access to 400,000 model-released photos and illustrations; this will run you $99.95 for 1 month, $199.95 for 3 months, or $449.95 for 1 year. A plus subscription gives you access to more than 1 million model-released photos and 100,000 illustrations; this will run you $249.95 for 1 month, $599.95 for 3 months, or $1,499.95 for 1 year.
Jupiter Images – Provides stock photography and stock illustrations with over 500,000 royalty-free images to choose from. They offer top collections like Ablestock, Comstock, Photodisc, Stockbyte, Digital Vision and PhotoObjects. You can find everything from lifestyle themed images to holiday to sports themed images. A unique feature of Jupiter Images is that you can use your login for the site on two other stock photography sites: gettyimages.com and punchstock.com. These are the variety of subscription plans to choose from: premium and stockxpert, premium, essential and stockxpert, essential, and stockxpert. For the premium and stockxpert and premium plans you can pay monthly or yearly; the other three plans can be paid on a yearly basis only. Each subscription lets you download up to 25 images per day. Individual image pricing varies per image is based on the image size and resolution (web, low, medium, high, or very high).
Big Stock Photo – Offers high quality, royalty-free stock photos and vector art for as little as $.90 per image. They pride themselves on offering the best value in the industry; their smallest images are twice the size of their competitors and their largest images are half the price. They also support usage of their images on the web and in PowerPoint templates. The cost of credits varies based on how many image credits you purchase at a time. While 5 (the minimum you can purchase) image credits will run you $15, 700 image credits (the maximum you can purchase) will run you $630. Credits do expire after one year. The cost of image downloads ranges from 1-6 credits; small images are 1 credit, medium images are 2 credits, large images are 4 credits and extra large images are 6 credits.
PunchStock – A well organized stock photography search engine, with over 2 million royalty-free photos, illustrations, galleries and collections to choose from. These images come from over 50 different sites which includes Jupiter Images (mentioned above), Getty Images (mentioned above) and Corbis. These collections come from some of the world’s top photographers. By carefully customizing your search options you can find that perfect image that you’ve been looking for. You can also search by keyword for photos, CDs, galleries, promotions and more. Pricing of images will depend largely on the actual site from where the image is from, along with size and resolution (web, low, medium, high, or very high). They currently do not offer monthly or yearly subscriptions. PunchStock also gives you access to Punch-O-Matic, which is a free online animation tool.
Images.com – “offers a diverse and dynamic collection of rights managed and royalty free images for advertisers, corporations and media/publishing professionals worldwide”. They present some of the best photography collections available on the Web. They provide a “what’s new” section where users can get a sneak peak at some of the newest collection items. This is great for find new material and new talent. Pricing will need to be calculated for each image and depends on category, reason for use, duration of use, industry, and targeted territory. At this time they do not currently offer monthly or yearly subscriptions.
ShutterStock – Offers over 9 million royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, and vectors from over 200,000 photographers. This week alone, over 100,000 new stock photos were added to the site. It happens to be the largest subscription-based stock tock photo agency in the world. They do not allow you to purchase single images; you will need to purchase a subscription plan. They have three different types of plans to choose from: 25-A-Day, On Demand or Enhanced. The 25-A-Day subscription plan lets you download 25 images daily and gives you access to all JPEG and Vector sizes; prices are $249 for 1 month, $709 for 3 months, $1,349 for 6 months, or $2,559 for 1 year. The On Demand subscription plan lets you download images as you need them. For access to all JPEG a Vector sizes, prices are $49 for 5 downloads or $229 for 25 downloads. For access to small and medium JPEG sizes only, prices are $49 for 12 downloads or $229 for 60 downloads. Finally there’s the Enhanced subscription plan which lets you download images any time and gives you access to TIFF, JPEG and Vector images; prices are $199 for 2 downloads, $449 for 5 downloads, or $1,699 for 25 downloads.
Stock Photo – Refers to themselves as a “web stock house” and provides over 4 million images. Their distinct collections are updated on a regular basis and they’re constantly adding new incentives and features for their members. The site operates pretty much like an image library. Once you become a member, you’ll be able to search for images, view samples, order images and download images. Since not all of their images are available online, there are times when you may need to request an image; this is where their quick, responsive representatives come in. They offer two types of memberships: silver and gold. Their Silver membership gives you free access to thumbnail images only. The Gold membership, which is a $49.00 onetime fee, gives you access to large image previews; you really can’t beat a lifetime membership fee.
Alamy – The world’s largest stock photography website with over 17 million photos to search through from thousands of photographers and photo agencies. They claim to “hold the largest and most comprehensive online collection of commercial photography in the world”. Their search technology is patent pending and they’re constantly working to improve it. A great thing about Alamy is that they are obsessed with having a very fast, efficient website; this means that you can expect nothing but the best searching and buying experience with them. Image prices are calculated on a per item basis. This is done before adding it to your shop cart. They also have low resolution pricing deals from as little as $5, which lets you purchase images specifically for the web and electronic use. For royalty-free low resolution images up to 170 pixels you’re looking at only $5 USD. In addition, images up to 280 pixels will run you $15 USD while images up to 450 pixels will run you $49 USD.
Acclaim Images – “offers only high quality, limited distribution digital images and art prints”. Contributed photos and illustrations come from hundreds of professional photographers which are all hand-picked and chosen for their originality and professionalism. This also helps to ensure that the quality of photos on the site remain at a high level. Prices for images are calculated individually based on category, specific use, duration of use, industry and territory.
Blackstar – A US based photo agency specifically for photojournalists and commercial assignment photographers. They represent over 350 worldwide clients and their stock photography library dates back to over 70 years. Their library is so large that not all images have been added to their computer database yet. Because of this, you can conveniently request a photo and they’ll gladly work with you to find what you’re looking for. You can search through their photos by going to their affiliate website, stockphoto.com (mentioned above). “Prices are based on unlimited usage within a usage category, not on who the photographer is or where he/she is. You will have unlimited usage of the material in the category you purchase.” To learn more about their assignment photography division, you can check out assignmentphoto.com.
Note: When choosing a stock photography service, it’s good to choose one with a “Lightbox”, especially if you work with different clients. A Lightbox is used to store all of your images until you’re ready to download them; luckily, you are not obligated to purchase any of these images. It’s also great for sending images by email to a colleague or client to get their opinion before downloading. If you’re working with a client who may want to approve images before purchasing, a Lightbox will definitely come in handy.If you liked this article, please take this time to share it with your Facebook friends using the Facebook button (see Facebook post button to the left) or retweet it using Twitter (see retweet button to the left). You may also want to follow us or subscribe to the site to stay up-to-date with this article. If you'd rather follow us from your Facebook account, join our Facebook fan page or subscribe to our NetworkedBlogs profile.
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