Shutterstock vs Getty Images – Expert Comparison

Shutterstock and Getty Images are two huge names in the stock media industry, having earned their reputation in their own right. 

The main difference between them is that Shutterstock sells affordable images for budget-conscious customers for as little as $0.22 each. And Getty Images aims to cover the needs of first-class companies that can spend more on premium imagery, from $150 per image. 

But that is just scratching the surface. So if you’re a graphic designer or business owner wondering which supplier to use, our full Shutterstock vs Getty Images analysis will help you decide.

Feature Shutterstock Getty Images
Best for customers Small business, graphic designer, freelancer, corporation Media powerhouses, global brands, enterprises
Best for photographers Beginners, side hustlers Professional, veteran
Price per image (subscription) $0.18*
Price per image (on demand) $7.78* $150**
Free trial/Free images Yes: 10 free images for 30 days Free image site: Unsplash
Video price (on demand) $53.68* $425
Video price (subscription) $7.07*
Available licenses Royalty Free, Editorial Use Royalty Free, Editorial Use, Rights Managed
Bonus features Image editor, AI content discovery and search AI content search, expert creative insights
Customer support OK Slow
*With our Shutterstock Coupon Code – 15% Off
**Small-sized image with an Ultrapack

TL;DR – Shutterstock vs Getty Images Verdict

In our expert opinion, Shutterstock is a great option to buy affordable royalty free stock images for commercial purposes, and it’s ideal for small businesses, independent professionals, and corporations that value cost-effectiveness. 

Getty Images is a better fit for large media companies and wealthy individual clients looking to buy editorial and commercial-use stock images that are on the high-end spectrum. 

Use Case Scenarios: Which One to Pick

Here is a quick guide for picking between Shutterstock and Getty Images in these everyday use case scenarios. 

Images for blog/website/social media channels. Choose Shutterstock. Their Standard license covers unlimited use in blogs, websites and web design, and social media graphics, and their many images are perfect for this use. 

Images for marketing on a strict budget. Pick Shutterstock. Their prices are significantly cheaper, especially with a subscription plan: you can get high resolution images for commercial projects for as little as 18 cents with our special Shutterstock coupon code!

Images for marketing for a big corporation. Choose Getty Images. If you manage a big budget and can spend all the money necessary on marketing resources, going for a corporate solution at Getty Images makes sense: you’ll get the cream of the crop in stock photography.

Photos to use in products for resale. Go to Shutterstock if you need large images; their Enhanced license covers unlimited use in products for resale, and it’s much more affordable. If you only need small images, Getty Images might be a better choice: a Rights Managed license with a product for resale rights, for a small image, has better use coverage and turns out cheaper.

Pictures for graphic design. Pick Shutterstock. Image variety, competitive prices, and royalty free licenses make this agency the best choice for most of the creative community.

A team solution for a big corporation. Getty Images is prestigious and high-profile. Shutterstock is cost-effective and budget-conscious. Pick the one that aligns best with your brand and possibilities.

Editorial images. Go to Getty Images. The vast selection of exclusive content that Getty offers in editorial imagery is unrivaled. Whenever you can afford it, here is where you find the best images for editorial use. 

shutterstock home > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Who Should Use Shutterstock

Shutterstock is ideal for businesses on a limited budget, independent graphic designers, freelancers, and big brands who like cost-effectiveness. 

The affordable pricing simplified licensing, and high quality images with a distinctive commercial style are an excellent fit for those groups. 

shutterstock

Who Should Sell at Shutterstock

Commercial photographers or amateur photography enthusiasts that look for a passive income stream can try Shutterstock. Shutterstock pays low royalty rates for entry-level contributors, and its prices per image are also on the downside. So the Shutterstock contributor program is an excellent fit to make some extra bucks on the side, monetize leftover pictures from previous shoots, and gain experience in commercial photography.

getty images > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Who Should Use Getty Images

Getty Images offers exclusive and high-end content, has an incredibly prestigious editorial image library, and its pricing options are more limited and expensive. For these reasons, it is better for customers from mainstream media houses, large corporations, and global brands with the budget and the need for such a high-profile service. 

Additionally, it can be a good fit for those looking to use images on websites, even if they are under smaller budgets: Getty’s small-sized images are the most affordable they have, and do well for web use. 

getty images contributor signup > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Who Should Sell at Getty Images

This agency has a very high standard for its contributors. This is an excellent place to sell photos and earn good money if you are a renowned and seasoned stock photographer. Some artists get exclusive contributor contracts, shoot content only for Getty, and get credentials to access private and high-profile events. Plus, when you sign up as a contributor at Getty Images you can also enter its daughter agency iStock.

Pricing and Buying Methods

shutterstock pricing 2022 > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

The main difference between Getty Images vs Shutterstock is in the pricing points. Shutterstock is a microstock agency that focuses on royalty-free and low-priced imagery via image packs or subscription plans – with a monthly or annual commitment. And you get any image size for the same price. Depending on the buying method chosen, you will find high quality images for less than $15 the piece and even as cheap as 22 cents each (even less with our Shutterstock coupon discount). 

getty images pricing 2022 > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Getty Images is a traditional stock media company and gears toward first-class content. Prices follow image quality, starting at $175 for a single image in the smallest resolution. You can only buy photos on demand, but they have Ultrapacks – prepaid downloads that cut the price from single image purchases. A small-res image can cost you just $150 if you get a 10-downloads pack (priced at $1,500).
However, note that Getty’s Ultrapacks let you download photos and video clips indistinctly, which can be a plus for some. 

Shutterstock's On Demand Images

Number of images Pack price Price per image With our Shutterstock Coupon
2 $29 $14.50 $24.65 / $12.32
5 $49 $9.80 $41.65 / $8.33
25 $229 $9.16 $194.65 / $7.78

Getty's On Demand Images

Number of images Size/Resolution Pack price Price per image
1 Small $175 $175
5 Small $800 $160
10 Small $1,500 $150
1 Medium $375 $375
5 Medium $1,625 $325
10 Medium $3,000 $300
1 Large $499 $499
5 Large $2,250 $450
10 Large $4,250 $425

Shutterstock's Image Subscriptions

Number of images Price per month* Price per image With our Shutterstock Coupon
10 $29 $2.90 $24.65 / $2.46
50 $99 $1.98 $84.15 / $1.86
350 $169 $0.48 $143.65 / $0.41
750 $199 $0.26 $169.15 / $0.22
*Annual, billed monthly plan

Free Trial and Free Images

Another difference between these stock agencies is that Shutterstock includes weekly image giveaways on its homepage and through newsletters. More recently, a Shutterstock free trial offer lets you download up to 10 images of your choice, for free, for one month. 

Shutterstock Free Trial Try Shutterstock for Free > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

On the other hand, Getty does not have any free trials and doesn’t really do freebies. However, they have more recently acquired Unsplash, a free stock photo website, which they maintain operating and where you can download excellent stock photos for free. 

Licenses

Here we find a point of coincidence amongst both stock images agencies: they both work with royalty-free licenses for commercial use. 

Shutterstock offers Standard licenses with a lot of flexibility to use in multiple mediums worldwide. Yet, it has some unusual limitations regarding budget size for YouTube and similar platforms. Here is the Shutterstock license explained!

Getty Images Standard RF license is flexible, too; however, it’s been recently updated to include restrictions regarding the use of photos for machine learning, for example. An interesting point is they include the option Market Freeze, which lets you get exclusive usage rights for a photo for a certain period of time (something almost no other agency does for RF images). This is custom-priced, though, and can get really expensive.

It’s worth mentioning that since its early stages, Getty Images operates with Rights Managed licenses, specifically tailored for customers’ intended use. While they can include rights such as exclusive use –commonly not allowed in Royalty Free– those are pricier. Right now, Getty Images still has Rights-managed licenses in use, but a few years ago, they announced the phased retirement of this offer from its platform. 

When it comes to additional usage rights, such as in products for resale or in an unlimited number of copies, Shutterstock offers the Enhanced license, which is still royalty-free but with extended rights, and at a higher price point: 2 images for $199, 5 for $449, or 25 for $1,699 (so from $67.96 to $99.50 per image).

Getty handles such extended use rights via Rights Managed licensing still. While the price is custom, it is tied to image quality and so, a small-sized image might come out cheaper with an RM license to use in products for resale.

Additionally, both companies offer editorial-only content for illustrative purposes only under editorial license. Editorial images cannot be altered/heavily edited and must be appropriately credited. Such conditions are placed on both stock photo agencies. 

Commercial and Editorial Content

The division between commercial use and editorial use content is a big one. And it also marks a considerable distinction between these two providers. 

shutterstock images > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison
Shutterstock commercial images

Shutterstock is a strongly commercial agency focused on royalty-free imagery for commercial use. However, in later years they have taken significant steps towards widening their service, particularly in editorial content. Shutterstock Editorial is a robust and competitive segment of their business. 

Editorial Stock Photos and Images Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison
Shutterstock editorial service
getty images editorial > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison
Getty Images editorial service

Getty is arguably the most robust name in editorial stock photography. The level of unique, first-level, and hard-to-get imagery they possess, from the latest world events to archival content, is responsible in large part for the agency’s global reputation. However, their Creative (commercially-usable) library has par quality and serves multiple marketing and brand content purposes. 

getty images commercial use > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison
Getty Images commercial images

Image Quality

Shutterstock and Getty Images both have high resolution images suitable for professional use. 

The difference is not in technical quality but artistic or contextual value: Getty has higher-profile contributors, some under exclusive distribution agreements, so their photos have an added worth. 

At this time, Shutterstock doesn’t have exclusive images or contributors, nor do they offer premium collections outside their main libraries. 

Video Offer

Let’s see what happens outside of photography. Both stock agencies have stock video clips and audio files available on separate catalogs and with their own pricing. 

Video-wise, both agencies have royalty-free stock footage and motion graphics in a resolution that ranges from SD to 4K. 

Stock Footage Video Royalty Free HD 4K Video Clips Shutterstock > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Shutterstock Video has the lowest prices on demand –via single video or video packs priced according to resolution– and even more with their video subscriptions. Plus, their Flex plans mix downloads of images, video, and audio files, at very affordable rates. 

getty images video > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Getty Images’ video prices are the same as for images and considerably pricier even in the lower quality option. 

Shutterstock Video Prices

Buying method Number of videos Total price Price per video With our Shutterstock Coupon
On demand* 5 $359 $71.80 $305.15 / $61.03
On demand* 10 $669 $66.90 $568.65 / $56.86
On demand* 25 $1,579 $63.16 $1,342.15 / $53.68
Subscription** 5 $99/mo $19.80 $84.15/mo / $16.83
Subscription** 10 $159/mo $15.90 $135.15/mo / $13.51
Subscription** 20 $199/mo $9.95 $169.15/mo / $8.45
*HD quality
**Annual, billed monthly plan, up to 4K quality

Getty Images Video Prices

Number of videos Resolution Total Price Price per video
1 Low $175 $175
5 Low $800 $160
10 Low $1,500 $150
1 HD and 4 K $499 $499
5 HD and 4 K $2,250 $450
10 HD and 4 K $4,250 $425

Bonus Features

Like other sites, Getty and Shutterstock include additional services to make their offer more appealing to customers. Keeping in mind they cater to different types of buyers, it’s interesting to compare their bonus features: 

Shutterstock is a tech-driven company and always has been. Over time, they’ve developed state-of-the-art solutions with the latest available technology to solve basic to advanced creative needs: 

  • Shutterstock Creative Flow: Their new workflow platform has everything from a user-friendly image editor (for those that aren’t graphic designers) to assisted image search and more. 
  • Shutterstock.AI: They have a dedicated site for Artificial Intelligence tools that simplify finding the best photos for your projects, among other creative insights. 
  • Advanced search bar: On the homepage, the search bar includes options for reverse image search and advanced search filters, and it’s all powered by AI, too. 

Getty Images banks more on its expertise in visual content. Their bonus services point at large brands and corporate clients: 

  • Visual GPS Insights: This page combines a search bar powered by analysis of search data from Getty and iStock –its microstock daughter company– to give you the most trending visuals for any given topic and creative insights from the company’s team of creative experts.
  • Media manager: This is their dedicated workflow tool for creative teams that lets you easily access, manage and share your files.  

Customer Service

Based on opinions expressed by users and our appreciation, both these photo sites have good service in terms of customer satisfaction. Still, they could do better when it comes to customer support. 

Shutterstock’s customer support is OK. The live chat feature is useful for specific and minor inquiries only, and the email support is slightly better. 

Getty Images only does support via email, and the answering times are longer than ideal. 

Company History 

These two companies have interesting yet dissimilar bios. 

wwww.shutterstock.com homepage

Shutterstock came to life in 2003, launching as an online stock photo agency based in New York, USA. It was the first-ever company to offer subscriptions for royalty-free photos and one of the first firms in the then-new microstock space –that sells royalty-free media with a minimum payment. Over time, they expanded into stock video, music, and editorial content. Today, they own one of the largest stock image catalogs on the web. They are one of the leading companies in the stock media industry, with a global presence and multiple distribution partnerships. 

Read our full Shutterstock review

See the latest Shutterstock statistics

getty images logo small > Shutterstock vs Getty Images - Expert Comparison

Getty Images was founded in 1995 as a provider of stock photography and editorial imagery for media houses and corporations. In the early days, they were a brick-and-mortar business with print catalogs and operated primarily with rights-managed licenses. Over the years, the firm has gone fully digital and become one of the world's most renowned editorial and visual content suppliers, offering photography, footage, and audio files. They have countless distribution agreements and exclusive coverage deals. Interestingly, in 2006 they acquired iStockphoto –now iStock–the first microstock agency on the Internet and Shutterstock’s long-standing competitor. 

Read our full Getty Images review

Shutterstock vs Getty Images: Frequently Asked Questions

Here we address what most people ask about these photo sites. 

Are Shutterstock and Getty the same company? 

No. These are two different stock photography providers. Until a few years ago, they were not in the same league. However, their latest business moves have turned them into more-or-less competitors. 
Still, Getty’s daughter company, iStock, is a more natural rival for Shutterstock. 

Whats the difference between iStock and Getty?

iStock is a microstock agency owned by Getty and operates on its stand-alone website. It sells royalty free images in a simplified system that includes subscription plans at much lower price points. It is comparable to Shutterstock and other leading services like Adobe Stock. 

Which is better Shutterstock or iStock?

While Shutterstock and iStock have many similarities and both robust offers, there are a few key differences that make each of them a better fit for different buyers. You can find out which is best for you in our Shutterstock vs iStock analysis.

Is it worth selling photos on Shutterstock?

It is if you are looking for a passive income stream. Shutterstock is not too hard to get in as a contributor –though they have strict technical standards–there is a lot of competition for sales, and the royalty rates are low, so optimistically, you can make a little side money. For more information, check our honest guide to selling photos in 2022.

Is it worth contributing to Getty Images?

If you are an experienced photographer with access to first-class or unique locations and subjects, then yes. Getty Images is a marketplace that is very difficult to get in, so only pros have a real shot at it. While the royalty rates are low, the selling price of images is higher. Plus, exclusive contributor agreements increase your share, so you can potentially make much more money for your work here. 

Verdict: Shutterstock Leads with Commercial Photos, Getty wins the Editorial Segment

After analyzing all this information, we conclude that while these agencies have gotten much closer in market share and competition, they are still fundamentally different and cater to different customer bases. 

Shutterstock remains an affordable stock photo alternative, with a firm offer in non exclusive and commercial-ready photography. Their flexible and straightforward licensing and low pricing make this an ideal choice for small businesses, independent freelancers, and budget-savvy customers. 

Getty Images is a prestigious stock photo powerhouse with an unparalleled offer in editorial imagery. While it has taken steps toward smaller-budget markets, this firm is still pricier. Its licensing models are a bit more complicated, so it’s still an option more suitable for big corporations and publishing companies and not so accessible to everyone. 

What’s your stance on the Shutterstock vs Getty Images debate? We’d love to know! 

Ivanna Attié

Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in StockPhotoSecrets.com and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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