Stock images are an essential tool for anyone working with clients who can’t afford to hire a photographer for a bespoke shoot, and with the cost of photography shoots running into thousands of dollars, that’s most clients.
Last month we looked at the 10 Best Free Stock Image Sites for 2021, and this month we’re focusing on the premium end of the market.
Paying for stock doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting a higher quality product than the free alternative, but the higher quality product is rarely free.
Ultimately, the right image is the right image, regardless of price. These are the best places to start your search in 2021.
Stocksy is a tremendous site with a slight edge to its imagery. There’s a certain cool vibe to the images featured on Stocksy. If you’re looking for a stock image that doesn’t look like a stock image, this is a great place to begin. Its prices range from around $15 for a small web image to $1000s for the image’s exclusive use.
EyeEm is a great source of editorial-style images. It has some excellent categories that are geared towards finding images instead of categorizing the collection. Pricing starts at $35 per image, with discounts for image packs. EyeEm has recently introduced the option to book a photoshoot — for clients ready to pay for custom images.
3. Getty Images
It’s impossible to make a list of stock image sites without including Getty Images. The stock behemoth not only has one of the largest collections of stock images but owns several subsidiaries. Loved by news media for its comprehensive coverage, if you’re looking for a particular stock image, try Getty. Getty’s a mid-price supplier with prices for small images starting at around $75.
4. Death to Stock
Death to Stock is all about leveraging the stock industry to fund photographers. These are photographs that photography professionals admire; there’s no filler whatsoever. Subscriptions for creative professionals start from $33/month. There are 100+ new images added to the collection monthly, meaning it’s still small, but if you want something truly authentic, consider Death to Stock.
5. Cavan Images
Cavan’s focus is on building a broad range of photographers, which has produced an outstanding set of diverse images. The curated collections, which are more editorial than commercial, are powerful. Cavan also offers a great support service in case you need help tracking down a particular image. Prices vary but start from $50.
6. Offset & Shutterstock
Shutterstock is one of the best-known stock collections on the web, with over 300 million images. Offset is a subsidiary of the much larger Shutterstock; it’s a high-end version of Shutterstock, with slightly elevated prices to reflect the higher quality. Shutterstock prices start around $2.50/image, Offset’s start around $300; that’s the price you pay for having someone pre-vet your options.
Westend61 has a smaller collection, but its images are all consistently high quality. Westend61 is particularly useful for designing banner images because the images are very commercial, with authentic-looking people and lots of eye contact. Prices per image start at approximately $25.
iStock was originally independent but was bought by Getty. iStock offers both credit, and subscription options starting around $2.50/image. Although you won’t find everything you’ll find on the larger Getty site, it’s worth checking to see if the image you want is here.