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Finding Stock Images The Easy Way

Any blogger knows that scouring through Commons is a real time suck. Find out what subscription stock image sites are worth a second look! Read more!

Any blogger knows that scouring through Commons for the right image is a real time suck.

While it’s the cheapest way to go, it can be painfully unproductive and put you at higher risk for copyright infringement. Let’s face it. It may be time to consider subscribing to a photo agency once and for all.

In this post, I want to compare some of the better known stock image sites out there and see if we can zero in on one that excels in price, selection and user interface.

Finding The Best Stock Image Site

Photo sharing agencies have come a long way in the past few years and new ones are rising into the limelight all the time. However, in 2013, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these. Note: All prices are subscription based.


One of the first companies to come to mind was New York-based Shutterstock. Their reputation precedes them as one that is on top of the stock photography game. Its founder, Jon Oringer, founded the company in 2003 by uploading 30,000 of his own images.

  • 28 Million Photos
  • $6.54 per day
  • 25 downloads per day
  • Excellent UI


Founded in 2005 in New York City, Fotolia offers a tremendous variety of high quality, royalty-free images, vectors and videos. Fotolia pretty much has it all.

  • 23 Million Photos
  • $6.46 per day
  • 25 downloads per day
  • Versatile


123RF are the new kids on the block. They are based in Hong Kong and have one of the most exciting site designs in the industry. They offer a competitive price for access to their royalty-free stock images, and they make finding the right image really easy.

  • 21 Million Photos
  • $5.37 per day
  • 26 downloads per day
  • Royalty-free exclusive


Since it’s inception in 2000, Dreamstime has grown to be a major player in the microstock market. In 2005, Microsoft came along and wanted to buy them out. Dreamstime declined that offer. They boast the lowest subscription price of any of the big players. Cool company.

  • 18 Million Photos
  • $4.82 per day
  • 25 downloads per day
  • Inexpensive

Thinkstock by Getty Images

Getty Images, a stock photography powerhouse in Seattle, was the first company to begin licencing images and have continued to shape and drive the industry forward since it was founded in 1995. Some of the world’s most influential media look to Getty for their premium images, footage and music. Their most affordable plan is with Thinkstock, a sister company.

  • “Millions” of Photos
  • $6.83 per day via Thinkstock
  • 25 downloads per day
  • Access to Getty Images

Stealing Images Is Copyright Infringement

Signing up with one of these business allows you to work with photographers and not against them.

Congress recently heard pleas by leaders in the digital media sharing industry for stronger copyright protections.

One of the leaders, senior VP of Getty Images John Lapham, said his photo sharing company faces challenges with copyright infringement.  He also said that Getty Images has technology that allows them to pursue pirated content [source].

It’s no secret that Getty sues companies and some individuals for copyright infringement. It’s public record.  Paying proper attribution to original authors is not only the right thing to do, it may save you and your company from getting embroiled by litigation.

In Summary: Two Choices

  1. The cheap and hard way, in which you scour the scant commons for free stock photos without ever finding that perfect picture. You’re also subject to certain restrictions.
  2. The paid and easy way, in which you have access to millions of quality images that depict exactly what you mean. You work with photo agencies, not against them.

For their awesome selection, competitive price and ability to help you get your job done the easy way, I tip my hat to Shutterstock.



Category SEO
Devin Harper Director of Outreach

Devin Harper is the Director of Outreach at Nifty Marketing, a local SEO agency. PR and link outreach is his ...

Finding Stock Images The Easy Way

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