What is Shutterstock? If you're looking to buy stock photos, you likely must have come across them multiple times and think ‘what does Shutterstock mean?': Shutterstock is a favored stock photo agency (and we even have an awesome Shutterstock Coupon Code here), with a huge and high-quality stock photo library, international touch, innovative ideas and technology, competitive pricing, useful plugins –like the one for WordPress– and a long history of delivering royalty-free stock photos to the public. Their constant addition to their innovation –like their computer vision-based, visual search tool, and their free online image editor– prove their dedication to both buyers and sellers of the stock photos all over the world.
Why is Shutterstock so Popular?
With its name popping up every time you search for images online, you may wonder what makes this site so popular. Even more, you may ask yourself, is Shutterstock legit? Is it worth it?
The reason so many creatives choose Shutterstock business is that it's well-rounded and professional. Shutterstock stock photos are high-quality and have a strong commercial value, so they're ideal for marketing purposes. The Shutterstock license is perfect for commercial use and has flexible terms. The many tech features and add-ons mean you can work with it effortlessly –there's even a Shutterstock app to access from mobile!– Just to name a few.
You can learn more, from who owns Shutterstock to how much a Shutterstock image costs, in our Shutterstock review. And you may also save money with our cool Shutterstock coupon!
But is Shutterstock it?
Shutterstock stock imagery service is one of the best, but is it the only stock photo website that you should consider when looking around for a stock photo agency to supply you with creative images and other stock content (like stock footage or audio files) for your business, your graphic designs? If Shutterstock photos (or stock videos, or even Shutterstock audio service) are not meeting your criteria for images, price, or search, look at the other stock photo agencies below. There are other websites like Shutterstock that offer quality stock photos and stock vectors for less, or with less of a subscription investment. Exploring them is worth your while, as the payout could be you finding the perfect solution for your image needs. Our list sums up the best sites like Shutterstock, saving you a lot of time!
5 Stock Photo agencies that are cheaper than Shutterstock
Before we do our comparison, it's important to make clear that at some listed agencies the price per image might not be less than what Shutterstock offers, but in those cases, the minimum upfront investment needed to purchase stock photos is minor than the one Shutterstock requires.
99Club – Stock Photo Secrets – Yearly Download Cap!
99Club is a new membership program created by us, Stock Photo Secrets, and specially designed for small-to-medium businesses working on a tight budget. With this plan, you can download 200 XXL images (photos, illustrations, vectors, templates) for the whole year for only $99 per year. You can access over 4,000,000 stock photos, vectors, and fonts, and get additional images for as low as $0.99 each! Deals like this don't last forever, so make sure to get your 99club subscription today!
This is a perfect alternative if you like Shutterstock's low-volume subscriptions, but you prefer a yearly download limit instead of a monthly one, for the added flexibility.
Learn all the details of this offer in our 99club review.
iStock – Previously known as iStockphoto – Exclusive stock images
iStock is a pioneer and renowned online stock photo agency, backed by parent company Getty Images –one of the most prestigious stock photography companies in the world–. They stand out for their level of curation, which divides their entire (and very large) library into two main collections, each with a pricing tier. One is Essentials, which hosts non-exclusive, budget images; the other is Signature, full of high-value and exclusive images. iStock and Shutterstock share a lot of similarities, as you're about to find out. Read more in our full iStock Review.
iStock/iStockphoto vs Shutterstock:
Essentials collection is comparable to Shutterstock’s collection in content type and variety, but has cheaper price points! You can get Essential images on demand with credits. They cost only 1 credit each and depending on the image pack you get you will pay between $8 and $12 per photo (and you can buy only one if you want, an option Shutterstock doesn’t have).
As for subscription plans, you can get plans for Essentials images only, and you have a choice of 10, 25, 50, or 750 images per month. Plus, you can choose to hire these plans monthly or annually (they’re billed monthly, but the annual option is cheaper). Like this, you can pay from $29 and up to $199 per month, getting photos for as little as $0.21 each!
Additionally, there are also subscriptions that include both Signature and Essentials images. These plans are a bit more pricey than those of Shutterstock, but when you think about it, you’re getting a lot more value as well, with exclusive premium photos you won’t find anywhere else. So it’s also a good deal.
The signature segment is the bonus that might help you decide on iStockphoto or Shutterstock. While the Premium Shutterstock collection has higher-end images available, it's not as affordable nor accessible for all. iStock's signature, on the other hand, is both, and also exclusive.
BONUS: for a limited time, we have a great, exclusive iStock Promo Code that gives you 15% off on EVERYTHING including credit packs and subscriptions! That’s right: whatever credits or subscription you choose, you get it at a cut price! Hurry up and grab it now, it’s only valid for a limited time!
Adobe Stock – Creative workflow solution
Adobe Stock is a robust and reliable stock photo service, whose large library of images (built on the base of the old Fotolia agency) is available directly within Adobe Creative Cloud applications –making it a very convenient option for all creatives using Creative Cloud design tools such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, etc. –. This integral workflow solution is what makes them a strong alternative to Shutterstock.
They sell images with subscriptions, for 10, 350, or 750 downloads per month. Prices start at $49.99 for monthly subscriptions, and at $29.99 per month with an annual plan. They also offer high-resolution images à la carte, for $9.99 each. If you have a subscription for 350 or more images, each additional photo costs you only $0.99.
Adobe Stock vs Shutterstock:
Adobe Stock adds value to its service with its full integration with the Creative Cloud platform and its many design and management applications. Just like Adobe, Shutterstock is constantly developing workflow tools to create a complete, creative workflow solution. So if you like to work with stock photos seamlessly, Adobe Stock is a good alternative. Their affordable prices added to the possibility of searching, testing, and licensing stock photos right from your favorite design app certainly makes them worth considering.
Get a complete look at this service in our Adobe Stock review.
Bigstock – Shutterstock's little brother
Bigstock is since years a subsidiary of Shutterstock and represents a very reliable alternative to buying stock photos, with a much wider price range. They offer subscriptions with a daily download limit –5, 10, 20 or 50 images per day–, starting at $79 a month, that you can hire for 1, 3, or 12 months. There are also plans with a monthly download limit, for 25 and up to 200 images per month, priced from $69 per month.
Like Shutterstock, you can also purchase Bigstock images with credit packs which include large, high-res photos.
Being a subsidiary of Shutterstock, this agency can be resumed easily: Great deal, nice prices.
BONUS: They even offer a 7-day free trial – where you can download up to 35 high-res images or vectors for FREE!
And there's more! Our special Bigstock Coupon Code lets you save 15% off your purchase!
Check our Bigstock review for more information.
Dreamstime – Flexible pricing options
Dreamstime is a well-established stock photo agency that launched around the same time as Shutterstock and quickly rose to a position at the top of the market. Today, it still has a strong reputation among creatives and stock photo buyers thanks to the quality of its images and its multiple pricing options.
They sell photos on-demand with credit packs, starting at $14.99 for 11 credits. Keeping in mind their photos’ prices in credits start at 1 credit per one image, you can download professional photos for $1.36 each or lower, as credit prices also go down with the bigger packs.
They also have subscriptions, with annual and monthly plans available. A great highlight in their offer is that they include very low-volume plans: they start at 5 downloads per month, for $23. There are options for 10, 15, and 25, 100, and 750 images a month, as well. Their only annual subscription is for the largest, 750 downloads per month option, and it’s an upfront payment of $1,724. However, if you can afford this you get the best deal ever, as you’re getting 9,000 images in one year, for only $0.19 each!
It’s worth mentioning that Dreamstime offers a lot more than just affordable images. Besides stock photos, illustrations, and vector files, they also have stock footage and stock audio collections as well as editorial content. Plus, the website is powered by the latest AI tech to make image searching a breezy experience.
You may learn all about the agency in our Dreamstime review.
Cheaper can be better when it comes to stock photo agencies
Plan your budget, plan your photo needs and then find the cheap stock agency that fits your criteria. A bit of planning goes a long way when deciding which stock photo agency is best for you!