Does it cost anything to open an account at a stock agency?
The good news is that signing up for an account at a stock photo agency is typically free. Therefore, you will not need to spend any money to peruse their library and put the images in your lightbox. Since nearly all stock photo websites have no charge to sign-up, feel free to sign up for them all and explore your options between each.
Where the cost does come in to play is when you have decided on which images you want to obtain a license for and download. Each stock photo agency has a minimum amount you need to deposit into your account. These prices can vary greatly from one agency to another, but the money you deposit can all be used towards the purchase of a license.
Bigstock Photo has a minimum of $15 for your credit packages. They do have free preview images to download, which will allow you to use the photo with a watermark to evaluate how it will work for your project. iStockphoto has a minimum of $18.50, which will buy you 12 credits. The more you purchase at once, the lower your price-per-credit will be. While Shutterstock doesn’t allow single image purchases, they do have subscription and occasional use packages starting as low as $49 for 5 downloads, or $49 for 12 small and medium only downloads.
This is just a small taste of what types of options there are from various stock agencies. Take the time to check out the policies of other agencies around the web so you can find the ones that will meet your needs.