To better understand the question: “How much does a stock photo cost?”, it will depend on what agency you choose, and whether you go with a member subscription or a credit purchase plan.
There are stock agencies on the higher end of the price spectrum, while others like us are more conducive to small-business owners with a tight budget.
For instance, Stockphotos.com currently has a membership plan that gives you 200 High-resolution XXL Images for print for $99 (only $0.49 per image!), which is a great deal for new stock buyers.
Stock agencies have a wide variety of subscription plans that will suit the budget of anyone with photo needs, whether it’s for personal use or a large company.
One rule that remains true to this day is the larger your subscription, the cheaper a stock photo will be.
A popular option for designers and large companies is monthly or yearly subscription plans that lower the price of stock photos even more. For personal use, the credit purchasing system is the most economical and requires little investment to start purchasing stock photos, but when you have a small business or a freelancer with lots of projects going on.
Each credit system or subscription plan has its own agreement, and it's very important to understand what the terms of the agreement are in order to find the best deals and get the best low-cost stock photos.
Some subscriptions provide many stock photo downloads per day, per month, and some credit subscriptions are active for a year. But more importantly, each agency has its own licensing terms, which define in which ways you are allowed to use the downloaded stock photos.
The top stock photo agencies tend to issue royalty-free licenses that enable commercial use with very few restrictions. These are very convenient, but you must always abide by the terms –especially when it comes to the forbidden uses– to avoid incurring copyright infringement or other violations that could potentially cause you considerable monetary harm.
While there are many options available, you must read the fine print in order to know exactly what you can and cannot do with the content.
There are a few options available.
Memberships start as low as $0.49 if you buy the Club Easy plan or even lower if you purchase The Club Ultimate plan, which gives you 1,000 image downloads per year for $299. We have compiled a stock photo pricing guide below to help you better see how the price of three different stock photo agencies is different. Here we take a look at Stockphotos.com, Shutterstock, and iStock.
Stockphotos.com Price Guide:
- Low Amount Download User: Club Easy
- Mid-Size: Club Plus – 500 image downloads per year for only $199 or €179.
- Largest Volume: Club Ultimate – 1,000 downloads per year for $299.
- Basic Image Packs: 2 images for $29; 5 images for $49; and 25 images for $229
- Professional: 750 images per month for $199 (every month); and 350 images per month for $169 (every month)
- Team: 750 images per month for 2 users is $299 a month; 3 users for $399 a month; and 4 or more users for $499 a month read our in-depth explanation of Shutterstock pricing here.
Shutterstock now has editorial subscription plans available if you're looking for editorial-use-only images!
Heads up! We have an exclusive 25% discount for the new 30-credit pack on Shutterstock! The deal applies to the 30-credit pack only and is a chance to save a lot on on-demand images.
By the way, here you can learn of the ways to get Shutterstock Creative Flow for free!
The images are under a Shutterstock license and built on the base of authorized and legally cleared content from Shutterstock's library, which makes them safer to use.
Shutterstock Generate is a paid service, but with the Shutterstock free trial, you can get up to 10 free AI images in one month. Try it today!
- Pay Per Download Credits: 3 credits for $33; 6 credits for $60; 12 credits for $115; 24 credits for $220; 36 credits for $325; and 60 credits for $520
- Essentials Subscription: Starts at 10 images for $40 a month, and so on
- Signature Subscription: starts at 10 images a month for $99, and so on
While the price is most likely the most influential factor for you when it comes to making a decision to purchase a credit or subscription plan, you must also consider these factors before choosing what to buy. We consider these essential things to take a look at before you head down the stock photography rabbit hole.
1. Image Collections
Make sure that you check out the image collections to make sure they have the right kind of photos for you.
Size also matters. For example, Stockphotos.com has over 8,000,000 royalty-free photos, vectors, and premium fonts and adds up to 100,000 new images per month. Make sure the image collection will be enough for you.
2. Payment Methods
Payment is a concern as well, especially if you are an international photo buyer.
PayPal has become a very common online payment system for freelance designers, web developers, and bloggers, and some agencies offer it to their customers for payment.
Using PayPal is great because it allows international customers to purchase membership and credit plans quickly and easily.
Of the two stock agencies listed above in the price comparison, Stockphotos.com and iStock accept PayPal.
3. Variety and Sizes Available
Agencies have all sorts of multimedia content available, so it’s important to have credits or subscriptions that will give you exactly the size and formats you need.
Club Easy offers 200 XXL (you can confidently print at A3 size at 300dpi or 6’ x 6‘ at 72dpi) images, vectors, and premium fonts.
Other agencies like Shutterstock and iStock also have quite a diverse selection of royalty-free content available for their customers.
Many agencies have specific rules for social media usage of photos from their collection. Most require you to place a watermarked copyright with the content creator’s name when using it somewhere like Facebook.
The two things you need to look for in the license agreement are how you can use them on social media, which means checking the license agreement and checking out if there are any limits on how long you can keep the post up.
Royalty free content from Stock Photo Secrets requires no special watermarks or copyright restrictions and can be used as many times as you want, for as long as you want (forever). They can be used on Facebook or any other social network.
Check your budget before you order image or membership subscription plans. Additional credits can be purchased if you need more photos at most agencies, and you’ll find that some are cheaper than others.
For a cheap personal subscription package with an online stock agency, Stockphotos.com's Club Easy is recommended as a good place to get started in stock plans. We hope our price comparison chart was helpful in choosing the right stock photo plan for you.