If you are a designer, blogger, advertiser, content manager, or photo editor, dealing with high-quality images is a big part of your job, and you’d like to believe that you acquired them from the best possible source. I made a list which highlights the stock photo agencies that rule the market right now.
Fotolia would be my first choice of a royalty-free image source, and over 4 million clients acted out on this resolve. Having launched in 2004, the agency so far managed to gather over 24 million royalty-free vectors, images, and videos. Seen from this perspective, Fotolia may well be one of the most expansive royalty-free merchants in the industry. Aside from being very satiable, the collection is comprised of top-quality items.
There is no need to sign up for an account in order to be able to browse through Fotolia’s rich vaults. In fact, there are pleasant surprises awaiting visitors just around the corner, surprises such as images that are freely available for download, together with comps for planning projects to use in designs. If you take into account just the reality of these free giveaways, Fotolia seems like a very welcoming image provider.
This agency’s pricing is really affordable and competitive. Take the credit packages, for example. The equivalent of one credit is only $0.74, and purchasing in this manner allows for access to Fotolia’s premium Infinite Collection, while also permitting to enlist Extended Royalty-Free Licenses in case you need them. In addition, buying with prepaid credits means that you can take from the 12 million-strong Low Cost Collection when your budget is small.
As regards Fotolia’s Individual and Multiple Membership subscriptions, you can either opt for a Daily, or a Monthly plan. With a Daily subscription, you settle on a value between 25 and 250 downloads/day at the price of $0.19/file. By comparison, a Monthly subscription assigns $25 to 5 images-a-month (see the BOGO offer by clicking on subheading ‘Fotolia’), and $0.84 to anything between 5 and 5000 (no daily limits).
I can’t help but swoon over 123RF, and for good reasons. You can choose a royalty-free image from their hefty collection which totals 22 million stock files (audio, video, photos and vectors). Day in and day out, 123RF’s selection team approves around 35.000 new creative assets into their midst. I really like the fact that this agency has a brilliant alternative to regular uploading: 123RF On-The-Go is a mobile application for contributors who can submit their photos anytime, and only high-resolution submittals pass the scrutinizing test.
It’s high time I drew attention to a most appealing aspect, namely free giveaways. 123RF allows their users to download any item, free of charge, from an array of 30.000 stock files: tons of graphics, digital arts, and audio files are completely at your service, given that you simply go ahead and access the free section. Apart from this enticing feature, I’d like to point out that 123RF has a 100% Money-Back guarantee; the policy states that, if users change their minds about one of their recent acquisitions, the agency issues them full refunds. And, to my mind, the allotted 72 hours is a lot of time to know for sure where you stand.
As regards payment options, in order to buy stock images from 123RF you need to settle on one of three choices: Basic, Premium, and On Demand. The Basic and Premium subscriptions increase the number of downloads allowed for one day as longer commitments are made; and of course, the longer you sign up for, the more handsome the discounts.
Another personal favorite, iStock, is undoubtedly part of the topmost three stock agencies of the moment. iStock is actually the first ever stock photo agency in existence, having launched in 2000 before anyone else did. As far as I can tell, for the past 13 years, the agency has gained the solid reputation of providing creative professionals with excellent stock files. iStock continues to work within an exclusive framework to this day, and presently has a database of 6 million illustrations, photos, Flash media, vectors, video footage, and audio files to speak of.
Singling out a certain image from iStock’s vaults is a precise process which leaves no room for irrelevant results. A wide variety of filters is put in place to make sure that you find exactly what you’re looking for, no more and no less. And if you’re wandering around their website, you might enjoy shooting a glance on Editor’s Picks, which contains all sorts of recommended images from iStock’s finest. Also, the agency’s Lightbox gives away one image per week, free of charge.
In order to buy images from iStock, you need to pay with credits, or take up a subscription. Going the route of credits is a good idea, for several reasons. In one session, 15 to 30.000 pieces can be acquired with a discount of up to 25%. In addition, the company’s homepage offers that currently a part of their exclusive stock content is available for sale at half the usual price. Finally, you can type in ISTOCK14 at checkout when buying with credits, and a 14% discount applies to your purchase (see subheading “iStock”).
There is much to say about Depositphotos. The top-grade agency yields a considerable amount of files, specifically 17 million photos, vectors, and videos. If you should pay them a visit out of sheer curiosity, I strongly advise that you let that drive take you to visit Depositphotos’ section of vector illustrations, which is where you’ll stumble upon over 2 million pixel-perfect items. In addition, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Sales Lightboxes now and then, as they encompass images that are relevant to the season and drops their prices with 20%. For instance, all 134 stock photos and countless other vectors now compose the Harvest Time collection. For any other royalty-free image, a daily/monthly subscription attaches the price of $0.15/file.
I need to write about the high-quality files from Cutcaster. This is one of the few stock agencies on the web that have an entirely exclusive set of creative assets placed at their clients’ disposal, all of which are categorized by topic into specific collections. 920 of those high resolution files can be found in the premium Crescendo Collection, not to mention that Cutcaster’s picture collections are also beautiful beyond words. In order to buy from Cutcaster, you don’t have to sign up; you can just pay-as-you-go with paypal or credit card. On the other hand, the price of a credit is as little as $0.89, and if you should take one of the 4 available credit packages, each of them is discounted to some extent: Bronze is cut off by 19%, Silver by 31%, and Gold by 39%.
Stockfresh is a convenient and intuitive stock image provider. The agency commands over 2.7 million royalty-free stock photos and vectors. If I were you, I’d make sure to visit their collection of 300.000 exquisite vectors, illustrations, and clipart, because it harbors some outstanding pieces of work. As far as pricings go, Stockfresh is really accessible: subscriptions come with the cost of $99 per month, and on the flipside 5 to 500 credits can be acquired at any given time for the price of $4.99 each. Besides, the Stockfresh user interface left me with the distinct impression of being charming and uncomplicated, so the users never waste any time in finding their ideal images.
Bigstock is an important part of my selection of 10 best stock image options. The one feature which makes Bigstock such an appealing solution at the moment is the amazing 7-day Free Trial. If you start this trial, there are no secrets, and you may cancel out anytime you wish. While you’re partial to the trial, however, you get a week’s worth of free access to Bigstock’s 15 million bank of vectors and images, and you can download (and re-download) anything you like at a rate of 5 images per day. After that, if you want to buy an image from Bigstock, you need to subscribe or go with credits. Takign up prepaid credits can save you up to 27%, whereas a subscription for a whole year and a daily download rate of 5 comes with the price of just $0.35/file.
Dreamstime is another notable addition to this list. The agency started out in 2000 and it amassed over 18 and a half million stock files, so it has a great deal of experience in its wake. Shopping with them is easy, cost-effective, and their seasoned team comes up with fantastic offers which can’t fail to lure in more and more clients. Their latest sale is sensational: if you sign up for a Dreamstime account during the first 24 hours of the first visit, whatever time is left thenceforward is subjected to a 60% cut in any purchase. Finally, Dreamstime also has a free section of web design graphics, photos, and illustrations, which is made available to all designer users.
PhotoSpin is another of my favorites. It has commissioned its alomst 4 million royalty-free stock photos and illustrations in two principal collections. The first, the Expanded Collection, is the largest of these, and it yields 2.4 million files. In order to buy an image from this huge collection, the user needs to calibrate a customized plan starting from 4 categories, 4 monthly terms, and 16 different subscription plans. The remainder of PhotoSpin’s content (1.5 million EPS and JPEG images) can be found in the Premier Collection, which can be tapped into immediately after the user has pre-established the size of all future downloads(Plus or Super Plus).
Thinkstock is the last, but not the least noteworthy stock image agency. In fact, it really stands out because of the way it summoned all the content. Essentially, Thinkstock’s origins are drawn from the conjoint potential of more than 40 top-class stock image agencies, including iStock, and Jupiterimages. Another unique aspect is the fact that Thinkstock doesn’t set the price of a stock creative file in accordance with its download size of choice, so users may as well take the largest version, and it costs the same as a size S. Finally, watch out for codes that incur noticeable discounts: R4HPC46N ensures a discount of 20% for a Pro annual subscription, and GTDPC46N cuts 60% off a monthly subscription.