If you’re searching for the best source to buy royalty-free images from, there are plenty of options. As a designer or publisher, you’d like to be certain that the deal you make provides you with flawless images to use in your work, at an accessible price. In an attempt to help you decide, I’ve drawn out a list of the greatest stock image websites of the moment.



I and 4 other million people would like to express our content at how affordable, convenient, and downright awesome Fotolia’s services really are. Since inception in 2004, Fotolia has reached an impressive number: 24 million stock files. No one has to become a member in order to rove through Fotolia’s stock images. In fact, paying a visit now and then may prove very useful, because the agency sometimes releases free image downloads, or free comps for planning projects to try in your designs – all because Fotolia loves to engineer pleasant surprises.

Nonetheless, creating a free account is required to buy images, vectors, and videos from Fotolia. Payment occurs in one of two ways: either by using the credit system, or by applying for a subscription. Fotolia’s On-Demand credit packages are very flexible and convenient, one credits translating into as little as $0.74. Buying with Fotolia credits makes it possible to acquire Extended Royalty-Free Licenses for the images you’re after, and this form of payment also allows access to the fine images from the Infinite Collection. What is more, if you have to work with a limited budget, Fotolia has got you covered with the Low Cost Collection, which offers 12 million multiple-sized images, for 1-6 credits.

On the other hand, the Daily or Monthly Subscriptions can be created for either an Individual or a Multiple Membership. A Daily subscription attaches a cost of $0.19 to each file, and sets a limit somewhere between 25 and 250 downloads per day. However, for the Monthly Subscription, members are simply required to specify a quantum for all downloads in one month, anywhere from 5 to 5000. Another great thing about monthly subscriptions is that any unused downloads Rollover to the next month, because Fotolia thinks it’s only fair that you continue to benefit from downloads that you’ve paid for. Clicking the ‘Fotolia’ link in the subheading will send you straight to the agency’s BOGO offer, which gifts the second month of any monthly subscription with 5 images and $25.




iStock doesn’t need any introductions. The seasoned collector has been around for 13 years, which makes them legendary. iStock was, after all, the original marketplace for royalty-free stock images. Since 2000, the agency’s vaults have gathered around 6 million exclusive photos, vector illustrations, audio, video and Flash media files for the use of all creative professionals.

The most attractive aspect of iStock right now is the offer which states that a part of their exclusive files are available at half the initial price. In other words, if you sign with iStock in this period, you can buy some images from their exclusive vaults with an astounding 50% discount. While you investigate the gorgeous images that iStock has to offer, be sure to visit the selection of recommended Editor’s Picks, and also to check the Lightbox section, because it gives away free images as part of a weekly routine. Apart from that, I need to compliment iStock’s search box; the search options are remarkably detailed, with many sets of filters which would find even the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Finally, here’s what I know about iStock in terms of pricing. Users can either choose a credit system, or commit to a subscription plan. So far as credits are concerned, as much as 15 to 30.000 can be equipped in a single shot, and with discounts of up to 25%. Right now, if you would type in the code ISTOCK14 at checkout, a discount of 14% for all credit-based purchases awaits you; try the link from the above-placed ‘iStock’ subheading.




I simply adore 123RF. Customers can choose stock images from their collection which totals the daunting sum of over 22 million audio, video, photo and vector stock files. With the passing of each new day, the 123RF team screens and adds around 35.000 new images to the pile. Chances are that anything you could possibly be looking for is right there. Some of the new additions passed through 123RF On-The-Go, which is the agency’s mobile application for contributors who wish to send their instant-made photographs. They submit everything via the application, and only top-notch quality items are allowed to pass.

Here’s the best part yet: 123RF’s freebies. A really good reason to sign up is that 123RF allows their users to download any file from a section composed of 30.000 free treats. That’s quite a vast amount of graphics, digital arts, and audio files, and it’s placed completely at clients’ disposal. Apart from this great piece of news, I need to underline the fact that 123RF has a 100% money-back guarantee, so when a client is not happy with what she/he’s just bought, the purchase can always be undone. The only rule is that this decision has to be made in the first 72 hours after buying an image.

Finally, I need to shed some light on 123RF’s three pricing options. If you want to buy from 123RF, you need to choose from a Basic, Premium, or On Demand plans. On the one hand, Basic and Premium make available more downloads per day and allow greater discounts, as longer subscription periods are signed. Alternatively, the On Demand system relies on credits, and doesn’t imply any daily download limits.




PhotoSpin certainly is a favorite of mine. The agency gathered 3 million fabulous-looking stock images, and methodically placed them in two very unequal collections. From this point of view, I think PhotoSpin has an intriguing system. The Expanded Collection encases most of PhotoSpin’s potential (2.4 million stock images), and for customers to buy from there, they need to fashion a customized monthly subscription according to 4 categories, 4 time options, and 16 different subscription plans. Yet, in the case of the smaller Premium collection, users have to decide beforehand on the size of all future JPEG and EPS downloads, and so choose Plus or Super Plus as condition for usage.




I can think of several good reasons to side with Thinkstock. A brand of Getty Images, Thinkstock partnered up with over 40 stock photo sources, including the likes of iStock and Jupiterimages, to compile a sizable source of vectors, illustrations, and photos. For starters, it’s great that, whichever file you want to buy, its price is not at the mercy of its download size; in fact, the image will cost all the same. Currently, Thinkstock instated a discount of 20% off a Pro annual subscription by using the code R4HPC46N, or one of 60% off from the total cost of a monthly subscription with code GTDPC46N. Besides, all files from Thinkstock look wonderful.




You are going to love Depositphotos around this time of year, and during any other festive period, as well. The reason why I’m stating this so bluntly is because I know about the microstock agency’s Sales Lightboxes. These Sales Lightboxes contain a multitude of discounted images which refer to the season that we’re passing through. For instance, the Harvest Time collection offers 134 royalty-free files at a 20% more affordable price. Out of Depositphotos’ 17 million stock vector images, photos and videos, the 4.600 vector illustrations make up an astute section. In this section, one free giveaway is assigned each week. In order to buy from Depositphotos, clients can either Pay-As-They-Go by credit, or enroll in a customized subscription.




Cutcaster is another noteworthy stock image agency. The company controls an exclusive stack of crisp illustrations, vectors and photos, which are organized by various topics. I’d recommend to anyone to lay eyes on the 920-strong Crescendo Collection, and also to pay a visit to Cutcaster’s heavenly picture collections. In terms of payment options, Cutcaster allows for non-members to simply pay-as-they-go whenever something catches their fancy, so no one has to actually commit to anything in order to buy an image. Alternatively, four credit bundles are available, namely bronze, silver, gold, and customizable, which can entail discounts of up to 49%.




From the get-go, Stockfresh greets its users with the most appealing interface. On moving past the initial pleasant surprise, anyone would soon become aware that Stockfresh is the most appropriate tool for when you need to find a certain image on short notice to use in your projects. The agency’s search filters are concise, so you never ever waste time scrolling through a plethora of meaningless stock files in order to single out the one you had in mind. Regarding Stockfresh content, 300.000 out of the total 2 and a half million are superb vectors. If you’re considering getting in league with Stockfresh, then there are two ways to go: prepaid credit packages with $4.99 per credit, or monthly subscriptions beginning from $99.




Bigstock altogether harbors 14 million stock files. The agency’s illustrations, vectors and photos are beyond perfection, and anyone can test that assertion through first-hand experience by taking up Bigstock’s 7-day Free Trial. This awesome trial week allows you to download any 5 images in each day (size notwithstanding), so you get 35 downloads in just the first week. Re-downloads don’t require any sort of payment, and just to be clear the free trial can be cancelled at any time, without any consequences. Finally, Bigstock’s prices are modest. For example, a credit bundle could come with savings of up to 27%, and a subscription for a whole year with 5 downloads per day attaches $0.35 to each item.




Dreamstime brings an end to my little list of 10 best stock image providers. The agency launched 13 years ago, and thus far it boasts of an impressive collection of 18 million stock files, where thousands new images are added everyday. What really caught my interest was the fact that Dreamstime now offers a discount of 60% for all files, if you sign up during the first 24 hours from the first visit to their website. Moreover, dreamstime grants its designer clients the possibility to download freely from a section of thousands of images, after they’ve signed up. As for pricings, taking photos and illustrations from Dreamstime can be done via credits (the required minimum amount of credits is 11, without any upper limit), or via monthly subscriptions (the smallest of which enables 750 downloads in 30 days).