Conversion, Design & UX

Four of the Best Professional Stock Photo Sites

It is off-putting and boring to go onto a website and see nothing but a wall of text. Sure, it might be full of useful information, but it can be a bit much to look at. That’s why it’s a good idea to break up these walls of text with high-quality images. But where do you go to find them? A professional stock photo site of course.

Due to copyright laws, it isn’t always possible to just find any picture on the internet to put on a page. This is why professional stock photo sites are such a valuable asset. Stock photos are images, taken by professional photographers and created by artists, of places, people, objects, landmarks or nature that can be used royalty-free by companies and people who create commercial designs.

Stock photos aren’t just used by web content creators. Traditional advertising agencies need high-quality images for print ads and billboards. An interior designer may want to use a stock image in their décor.

No matter what you need stock images for, there’s no denying that Shutterstock, iStock, Getty Images and are four of the biggest names in the business. These sites allow users access to millions of images that can be sorted by subject, downloaded, and used commercially.

While these websites provide a similar service, they do so in different ways. To help you determine the best professional stock photo site for you, let’s get into our comparison guide.


Shutterstock facts

  1. 200 million stock photos, images and graphics
  2. 10 million music and video clips in 4k or HD
  3. Starts at $29 for 2 images is by far the stock photo website with the largest assortment of images and video clips available to pick from. They are a company based out of New York City that offers over 200 million stock photos, images, and graphics, as well as over 10 million music and video clips. The images are available to be downloaded in four different sizes in JPG form.

It is an easy site to use, as you simply enter a keyword for whatever the desired subject matter is to be searched for. Once you decide what size you wish the image to be, you click on the free download tab to download onto your device. Videos are available in 4K or HD clips and can be searched by title or artist.

Shutterstock offers both pre-paid image packs value-priced annual plans. With a pre-paid image pack, you pay a one-time fee to download a set number of images, starting at $29 for 2 images. Their annual plans dramatically cut the cost per image, which can become as low as $0.27.

They also offer plans for multiple users, which is great for large organizations that need to collaborate.

Getty Images

Getty facts

  1. 80 million images
  2. 50,000 hours of stock footage
  3. Exclusive image purchase options is a Seattle-based stock photo site that provides businesses and individuals with a database of over 80 million images and over 50,000 hours of stock footage from which to choose. On top of that, Getty continually builds its database of images and footage through the acquisition of former privately-owned businesses, from small family-run firms to multinational agencies.

Getty sets itself apart from other stock websites with its extensive library of high-resolution designs. This selection is particularly useful for businesses that create traditional advertisements such as billboards, print, and television. And because they offer exclusive image purchase options, you can make sure that your ad will be 100% unique.

The site offers several levels of access that vary by content type. Their most cost-effective subscription allows users to download small images and web videos, while their most robust offer gives users access to large images and 4K video. Also, like Shutterstock, Getty offers enterprise plans for teams – if your company needs new content on a regular basis, these types of plans are the most cost-effective.


The site is a subsidiary of Getty Images that offers royalty-free images of microstock photography. Unlike traditional stock photography, microstock photography is sourced almost exclusively through the internet by a wide range of photographers, making these images available at a much lower rate.

iStock has a database with millions of illustrations, photos, clip art, audio and video clips to look through. They claim to add approximately a half million new images, videos, and audio clips to their database each month.

While iStock’s photo offerings are very similar to Shutterstock, the way you pay for images is a bit different. iStock works on a credit-based system – think of it like buying tokens at an arcade. You buy a certain number of credits which you are then free to use on that many images.

For most of its existence, iStock functioned on this credit system alone. However, in the last few years, the site has introduced subscription options. These subscriptions can be bought on an annual or monthly basis, giving users access to a set number of image downloads per month. is another subsidiary of Getty. It works a bit differently from the other three stock image sites we’ve discussed so far – instead of downloading images to use on websites and in advertisements, sells real-world prints for personal use.

So, if you were browsing Getty images earlier and saw a photograph that you’d love to have hanging in your living room, is the place to make your wish a reality. The photos you order will arrive framed and ready to hang, making this the perfect stock photo platform for professional home designers and savvy gift-givers.


All four of these stock photo sites are well-renowned for the quality of their images. But aside from that similarity, they offer vastly different services.

The site you should use will depend entirely on your needs.

  • Want a stock image you can display in your home? is the place to go.
  • Need a super high-quality image for a highway billboard? might be up your alley.
  • Just need to download photos to use on your company’s blog? Either or should do the trick.

If you’re still not sure, visit these sites and browse their pricing plans and databases for yourself. You can even test them out by purchasing a one-time download before you commit to an annual subscription. You’ll never know until you try!

Four of the Best Professional Stock Photo Sites