Home Photography 9 Best Shutterstock Alternatives (Free and Paid)

9 Best Shutterstock Alternatives (Free and Paid)

Image is a crucial element to create web content, even if it is just a blog post. Without an image, your content has no soul. There are many websites on the internet to get images, including Shutterstock.

With over 313 million of image collections, Shutterstock is unquestionably one of the best websites when it comes to stock image. It also has flexible enough pricing options. If you need images on a regular basis, you can register to become a paid member. Or, if you need images from Shutterstock for a certain project only, you can choose a prepaid plan which doesn’t require you to pay a subscription fee.

Are there alternatives websites to download images other than Shutterstock?

Sometimes, popular doesn’t always the best and quantity is not always the most crucial thing to choose a stock image website. Sometimes, it’s better to choose a stock image website with fewer collections, yet has well-curated images so that you can save time in selecting the proper image for the project you want to work on.

If you are looking for a Shutterstock alternative, whatever the reason, here are some websites you can go to. We have selected 9 of the best stock image websites, from free to paid ones.

Best free alternatives to Shutterstock

1. Pexels

Pexels is one of the best free alternatives to Shutterstock. It’s a community-driven stock photo website where you can download free photos from talented photographers. The image collections on this website are very well-arranged. You can find images by color, category or photographer. If you are a photographer, Pexels can also be a better place than Instagram to share your shots. It also regularly run photography contests you can join to test your photography skill. Pexels adopts a CC0-like license, allowing you to use the images you downloaded for any purpose, including commercial.

2. Unsplash

The rising star. According to a Wikipedia article, Unsplash is cited as one of the world’s leading photography websites by popular media such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and CNET.

Unsplash has a unique story. This website was started from a Tumblr-based website before it eventually turned into a large website like today, with millions of photo collections. Same as Pexels, Unsplash is also a community-driven stock photo website, meaning that you can discover photos from talented photographers from around the world. Photos available on Unsplash are also very well-arranged. You can find photos by category or photographer. There are also Collections to allow you to find conceptual photos curated by the Unsplash team and the Unsplash users. All photos on Unsplash are also released under a CC0-like license. You can use the photos you downloaded for any purpose, including commercial projects.

3. Pixabay

Pixabay is also a great place to download images for free. There are over 1 million images available on the Pixabay database. Unlike Pexels ad Unsplash in which the collections are limited to photos, Pixabay also offers vectors and illustrations. Pixabay also adopts a CC0-like license which allows you to use the images you downloaded for any purpose. Pixabay is a great place to find quality images since it has a tight enough reviewing process for the submitted content. Not all images submitted by contributors get accepted. Only images meet the qualification will be accepted.

Paid alternatives to Shutterstock

1. iStock

iStock is a child company of Getty Images. Unlike its parent company that can require you to pay up to $499 for a single image, images on iStock can be purchased at way cheaper price. iStock is a microstock website one of the direct competitors of Shutterstock. You can get royalty-free images from this website whether via a subscription model or a single purchase. The images on iStock consist of three types: photo, illustration, and vector. If you use Adobe’s products (Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator), iStock offers a plugin that allows you to find a photo without leaving the app.

2. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is relatively new. This microstock website was released by Adobe in 2015 to compete with competitors like Shutterstock and iStock. Since it is owned by Adobe (the company behind Photoshop and Illustrator), Adobe Stock is a great option if you use those products as well (Photoshop and Illustrator). In general, the pricing options offered by Adobe Stock are not much different from Shutterstock. For instance, Shutterstock has a plan that allows you to download 10 images per month for $29 ($2.90 per image). Adobe Stock also has a plan that allows you to download 10 images per month for $29.99 or $2.99 if calculated individually. Adobe Stock offers four license types that you can choose according to your needs (read here to learn more).

3. Stock Photo by Canva

Another new player in the stock photography industry. Canva is better known as an online design tool that you can use to create marketing and social media content materials. In the Canva app, you can add images (from the Canva image library) to your design. Some images can be added for free, some require you to make a purchase before being able to add. If you are not a Canva user, you can also download images from the Canva library via Stock Photo by Canva. For paid images, you can get them by becoming a pro user of Canva or buy one individually for $10.

4. 123RF

123RF is another great alternative to Shutterstock. You can also download images from this website at a cheap price. 123RF offers two buying options. First, you download an image via a subscription model. If you just need to download images from 123RF for a certain project, you can also download images with a one-time purchase model that doesn’t require you to pay the subscription fee. Images on 123RF are available in two common licenses: Standard License and Extended License.

5. Depositphotos

Depositphotos is a great option if the price is the main cause that makes you want to switch away from Shutterstock. The cheapest plan offered by Depositphotos allows you to download 10 images per month for $9.99 (0.99 per image). If you need to download more than 10 images in a month, you can pay $1 for a single image. It is just a sample since there are several plans offered by Depositphotos, including on-demand plans that don’t require you to pay a subscription fee. You can download photos, illustrations and vector images from Depositphotos.

6. Storyblock

Storyblock is not for those who hate the subscription business model since it accepts the subscription payment model only. There is no option to download an image from this website with a one-time purchase model. Storyblock is a great microstock website for agencies or individuals who need plenty of images each month. You can download as many images as you want. Storyblock offers only two plans (Individuals and Businesses). The Individuals plan offers unlimited monthly downloads for $65. You can download photos, vectors, and illustrations.

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