Stock photos, like many other products and services, come at different quality levels. While most suppliers grant image resolution and commercial value to match professional usage of their images, sometimes you may want photos that are better than the average, photos that are of a higher value and have greater visual impact. Sometimes, what you want are premium stock photos. Sometimes, you want exclusive stock photos.
And where to find them? How much do they cost? Here we answer these questions related to high-end stock photography, providing you with our list of the 5 best agencies to buy quality stock images. Dive in!
What is Premium Stock Photography?
First things first, let's clarify what premium stock images actually are. If most serious stock photo agencies claim their images are high resolution and suitable for professional use, then what is exactly what a premium image adds to it? The answer is in the content and curation of photos within this category.
Every serious stock photo agency reviews and curates all of the images they include in their libraries. They ensure they are legally safe, technically accurate, and commercially valuable. However, most of them tend to focus on offering customers images for their every need, at super low prices. This means they aim at having very large collections with photos that, although very useful, are somewhat generic and strongly commercial-styled.
Premium stock photo collections offer images that go beyond the typical stock photo. Images that are more artistic, that have a higher production value, and different, more unique aesthetics. They also tend to represent niche topics or to portray popular themes in an innovative way, such as authentic disability images for example. This added value makes them a bit more expensive than regular stock photos, but still affordable in most cases.
Several popular agencies include a premium collection in their offer, and other companies are focused exclusively on this kind of photography.
Psst! Many of the agencies listed below have great Black Friday 2023 deals that you can grab to save a lot in your premium stock images!
Photocase is a successful and well-established, Berlin-based stock photo agency specializing in premium images. For over 15 years they offer a superb collection of artistic stock photos with the highest quality and a great sense of uniqueness. They put particular focus on curation to ensure the premium level of their offer. Find out more details in our Photocase review.
Photocase images are unique stock photos with a defined authentic aesthetic that defies the parameters of regular stock photography, exploring popular themes and topics with a modern and fresh perspective, and covering niche genres as well. You could say they are one of the best Premium Stock Photos providers.
They sell images on demand only, ranging from $14 to $42 according to size, but they have a cool credit pack system that lets you save in volume purchases, cutting up to 45% of regular image price. This makes them one of the most affordable premium stock image services around!
Explore Photocase's galleries today to find unique imagery for your designs! And if you fall in love with them, seize the chance of getting them cheaper with our exclusive Photocase Coupon Code with 5 Free credits + 10% Off!
Explore their awesome library right now: just type in your keywords in the search field below and hit Search!
Offset by Shutterstock
Shutterstock is one of the biggest and most popular stock photo agencies on the web, famous for having the largest stock photo library around, and for being the innovator behind the stock photo subscription model. But on the side of their budget-oriented business, they also own and manage Offset by Shutterstock, a stand-alone site dedicated to premium stock images. Check out our Shutterstock review for more info, and our Offset coverage for more details on this premium site.
Focused on authentic style, contemporary aesthetics, and artistic production value, Offset offers a large selection of high-end stock photos from handpicked authors, covering a wide array of themes and topics and also more specific and less popular genres that are hard to find in stock photography.
Offset images are all Royalty-Free, and they are sold on an on-demand basis. According to resolution photos cost between $200 and $500 each. But they include image packs (prepaid downloads) that cut a considerable amount from individual rates when buying a larger volume of photos.
When you think of premium stock photos, you think of Getty Images. This is by far the most renowned traditional stock photography agency in the world, with a reputation built throughout its several decades in business, spanning from the good old days of physical photo catalogues all the way to today's online digital library. Check our Getty Images review for more details.
Getty Images offers one of the largest stock photography catalogues in the world, with curated collections covering all styles, themes, and topics you can imagine, including editorial imagery. Their worldwide network of photographers ensures every event and scene in the globe has representation in their library and produced a lot of premium images.
Getty Images sells photos under either Rights Managed or Royalty-Free license. The first allows to get specific rights such as exclusive use of an image but has a much higher price point as every right acquired is added to the final cost. Royalty-Free images are much cheaper as they include a set of usage rights on a fixed one-time fee. These, Getty Images files can cost from a couple hundred up to a few thousand of dollars.
But now they have a great way to buy premium stock photos without spending astronomical sums: Ultrapacks. Getty Images Ultrapacks are simply on-demand downloads that you buy in advance and use to download images from a selection of Royalty Free and Editorial photos. They come in several sizes, and they are divided according to image resolution. These packs let you save up to thousands of dollars in your purchases, with up to 33% off! Read more on Ultrapacks here.
Discover Getty's first-class imagery by just entering your desired keywords in the search bar below!
Adobe Stock Premium
Adobe Stock is a stock photo service directed by Adobe, that is fully integrated into their Creative Crowd platform, making it a seamless solution for designers and creatives using the said platform. Besides a regular library of budget photos, the services include Adobe Stock Premium, a collection of high-end imagery from top photographers and production studios. Learn more in our Adobe Stock review.
The Adobe Stock Premium collection, just like the rest of their library is available both on their stand-alone website and in Creative Cloud applications. It's packed with diverse stock photos from high-profile outlets like Westend61, Robert Harding, Stocksy, Cavan Images, and many more. Photos center on realistic, naturally styled content with modern takes on popular topics and themes. Check out more info on the Adobe Stock Premium collection here.
These images come with a custom license that is Royalty Free but adds extended usage rights, and they come at a higher price point than the rest of their offer, at $249,99 and $499,99 each according to image resolution. A worthy investment when you're looking for premium stock images.
See how this agency fares compared to another top stock photo site, in our Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock comparison!
Check out the quality of Adobe Stock's catalogue, just use the search bar below to find images on any topic you want!
Signature by iStock
iStock is one of the leading stock photo agencies in the space and the pioneer in the microstock business model. For years owned by Getty Images, their trustworthy status is only parred with the quality of their images and service. Signature by iStock is a photo collection with exclusive premium stock images at very affordable prices. Learn more about the company in our iStock review.
One of the main points in iStock's current offer is its dedicated curation process that brings two offers in one library. iStock's catalog has two main collections, each with millions of photos available. Essentials for budget imagery and Signature for high-end stock photography. The signature collection hosts millions of photos that are not only exclusive to iStock (meaning you will not find them in any other source), making them more unique but also more artistic and with higher production value and commercial worth. Find out more about iStock collections here.
Signature images can be purchased on-demand with credits, where the final image price will be given by the credit pack you buy (the larger the pack, the cheaper the photo), ranging between $24 and $33. But they also offer subscription plans with access to both Signature and Essentials collections. With monthly and annual options, starting at 10 downloads per month and up to 750, these plans give you photos at extremely low rates, as low as $0.44 each! By far the best deal in exclusive, premium stock photos.
All Signature images come with an iStock license (standard by default, but you can add an extended license at your discretion), which is one of the most encompassing image licenses ever.
Ready to see some cool images? Make use of iStock's search bar right here to bring up high-value photos in with any concept you want!
Now you have 5 different alternatives to buy premium stock images that are not only high resolution but also of high artistic value and commercial potential, photos that are unique, trendy, and exclusive.
This is the kind of imagery that helps you deliver appealing designs, aiding you in reaching your goals for your business, career, or project.
Ready to use premium images? Which agency are you going for?