Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock – The Breakdown

UPDATE: Thinkstock closed - 2019

Thinkstock has effectively closed its doors in mid-2019, but you can find awesome Thinkstock alternatives here!

Note: This aristocklogo300ticle is now a bit dated. In the past years, Thinkstock has been quieter in the industry. But if
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If you still want to know about Thinkstock and how it compared to Shutterstock, continue reading our Breakdown:

This is a comparative review of Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock where we provide a breakdown of general features that can both companies be distinguished for. Previously we touched upon this subject in our Comparison between Thinkstock and Shutterstock highly recommendable review where we introduced both companies and listed their price and subscription options.

Thinkstock LogoIn this comparative review, we present the breakdown of features in Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock's dilemma that every corporate client most likely would face. Both stock photo agencies provide similar content but which one to choose for your next big project or which one to worship for the foreseeable future. By the end of this review, we aim to convert you into the believer of one particular stock photo agency over the other. Who is the winner of Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock battle for you?

Below is the content of this article addressing features for Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock comparative review and their differences. As a quick reference, we also present the table at the end of this article.

Strengths of Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock

Both companies provide a subscription-based image library with millions of royalty-free photos, vector graphics, and illustrations that can be used for various projects. For the average user choosing one company over the other is a matter of taste but there are additional features that one would want to consider first. The strength of Thinkstock is that in addition to the content from the army of professional photographers and illustrators it serves as marketing front for the Getty Images, iStockphoto, and Jupiterimages.

What things you should know about Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock before diving-in

Images from Thinkstock and Shutterstock are widely used for a variety of purposes, however, there are some certain restrictions that Shutterstock imposes compared to Thinkstock:

  • Shutterstock cannot be used for the advertisements in the health industry such as medical, pharmaceutical, personal hygiene, dietary supplements, and others unless special license options are selected in advance. Shutterstock is still prohibiting the use of products in tobacco and adult industries.
  • Thinkstock images have no restrictions on the health industry advertisements. In comparison with Shutterstock Thinkstock does not place restrictions on its products for the tobacco or adult industry as long as the use is not pornographic, obscene or otherwise unlawful.


How does compare Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock in stock photo licensing?

Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock difference is apparent in case of usage licensing and keeping the records for each particular set of product:

  • Shutterstock standard license allows only the use of images for 3 different clients per subscription month. They also require that you always keep the record of your image usage in case Shutterstock requests it.
  • Thinkstock places no limitations on the number of clients in which the images can be used and no detailed report of particular use is required.


In case when your usage had caused you legal problems both companies provide indemnification but the nature of this insurance at Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock greatly differs:

  • Shutterstock offers only $10,000 per subscription, not per image and it doesn't matter whether you purchased a standard or enhanced license.
  • Thinkstock goes much further and provides more options for cases of indemnification. The company offers $10,000 of legal protection per image on the standard plan and up to $250,000 per image on the Extended License subscription. This is particularly useful since if you had a legal issue with 2 different images you could effectively have $20,000 in total.


Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock paying options to choose

We had covered paying options in our Comparison between Thinkstock and Shutterstock review previously and readers are advised to consult it as well. Here we outline the main relevant differences:

  • Shutterstock does not particularly advertise monthly billing on annual subscription options. You have to take it or leave it.
  • Thinkstock offers many subscription options to suit different types of clients and needs. The company provides many payment options and does not require that you consent to auto-renewal of your payment method. For example, currently Thinkstock offers a very affordable yearly subscription plan which you can pay with flexible 4 to 12 payment installments.


How much print runs Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock offers per license?

For an average user who is not planning to print big quantities of their products using images from these stock photo agencies, there is no Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock dilemma when used within the standard licensing. However, when the number of prints is large there are some considerations to be made:

  • Shutterstock allows up to 250,000 print runs when used their standard licensing. For more prints, different kinds of advance licensing need to be agreed upon.
  • Thinkstock allows up to 500,000 print runs and this does not include webpage or email views. Usually, print runs are for “peruse” basis which means each time you use an image in a different format than before your print run counter goes back to zero.


Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock Conclusion

In this article, we presented Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock breakdown of features and facts. For the general small and medium projects, the differences would not be so obvious since both stock photo agencies provide similar content and features. However, in the case of big and corporate work Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock battle, Thinkstock is a clear winner with its flexible set of rules fewer restrictions per client, per industry and per license.

Thinkstock Logo

Thinkstock vs. Shutterstock comparison table

The breakdownShutterstockThinkstock
What you getMillions of royalty-free photos, vectors and illustrations.Millions of premium, royalty-free content also from Getty Images, iStockphoto and Jupiterimages
Things to know beforeNo use for health industry unless specifically asked.
No use in tobacco and adult industry.
No restrictions in health and tobacco industries. Adult industry allowed but not pornographic and unlawful use.
End clientsUse is allowed for 3 different clients per month. Obligatory record keeping.No client limitation and no record keeping
Legal protectionOnly $10K of indemnification per subscription$10K protection each image in standard plan. $250K per image for Extended plan
PaymentOnly standard monthly billing for yearly subscriptionDifferent and flexible options are available
PrintingUp to 250K pagesUp to 500K pages per size. Counter goes to 0 for different size of the image


Amos Struck
Amos Struck

Amos Struck, a renowned expert with over two decades in the stock photography industry, is known for his profound expertise in both stock imagery and artificial intelligence (AI). He is the founder of and a driving force behind the innovative AI-driven platform, His pioneering work in visual AI is marked by co-founding Ximilar AI. Amos also established the Microstock Expo Conference, a key event in the stock photography sector. As a regular speaker at major industry conferences like DMLA and a prominent member of CEPIC, he consistently contributes to the industry's growth and evolution through a blend of technological innovation and market insight.

  1. I am a Shutterstock contributing Photographer, and I like the way Shutterstock treats their contributors with quick royalty payouts and timely updates on keeping contributors posted on what’s trending with their customer base. I have never been happy with the contributor relations from Getty, not are any of my contributor artist friends. Amos, you may also want to review Shutterstock’s 35/day Multishare subscription product, or their new Premier License product available to corporate image buyers, which offers great value to the photo buyer with a very fair licensing price. I also like the way Shutterstock is exponentially growing out their high quality collection at the rate of 11,000 new premium high quality fresh images per day, hitting close to 30 million images, with 3 million of the best vector collection on the market. In my books, Shutterstock offers way more value to photo buyers who license my images. My growing speedy royalty payments are proof of this…
    Cheers, BP

  2. I read this article with interest. So I went to both of these companies, looking to purchase an ext license for 50 images. Thinkstock was near 80% more expensive than Shutterstock for the same terms.

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