10 Excellent Sources for Royalty-Free Images

I’ve compiled a list of 10 leading stock photo agencies of the moment, in the hope that it may serve designers, publishers, and advertisers who wish for a clear perspective on today’s market, and decide which sources of royalty-free images would be best to settle for.


1. fotolia
Fotolia is definitely the first and foremost microstock source of images. It started out in 2004, and is now committed to keeping its 4 million loyal clients happy. A total of 24 million stock files make up Fotolia’s potential. Without having to sign up first, anyone is free to look through the content, and they’ll most likely be taken with the formidable-looking vectors and photos. Another great reason to visit casually is the fact that Fotolia sometimes gives away free image downloads and comps for planning projects to try in a design.

There are two classic options to choose from when you buy from Fotolia: credits and subscriptions. Taking the route of credits makes it possible to acquire top-grade files from the Infinite Collection, and it also enables Extended Royalty-Free Licenses. One credit translates into $0.74, which is one of the most convenient values on the market. What is more, customers will find that Fotolia is mindful of the times when their projects are assigned small budgets, as illustrated by the Low Cost Collection which encases 12 million files at a price of 1 to 6 credits each.

Fotolia’s subscriptions are daily or monthly, and can be activated for an individual or a multiple membership. While daily subscriptions attach $0.19 to each image and a download rate from 25 to 250, monthly subscriptions require that the user specify a monthly total of 5 to 5000 – available for the price of $0.84 each. The brightest side of opting for a monthly subscription is the fact that all untapped downloads Rollover to the next month. Moreover, the current BOGO offer (click on subheading “Fotolia” for details) mentions that the second month is free of charge for any monthly subscription to 5 images and 25$.


2. iStock
iStock takes its rightful place as one of the most notable stock image merchants. iStock is no more and no less than the original stock photo agency, having launched 13 years ago. The positive feedback received in all this time serves to secure iStock’s reputation of supplying professionals with excellent and exclusive creative assets. An exclusive prerogative continues to mark iStock’s collection of 6 million photos, illustrations, vectors, Flash media, audio and video files.

Searching through iStock’s vaults for a particularly tailored result is a delightfully thorough process. The agency placed loads of filters to aid users in their quest for the perfect image, and this will always guarantee accurate matches. Besides, if you ever find yourself browsing iStock’s website aimlessly, you might enjoy investigating the Editor’s Picks, because the section presents all sorts of recommended images from iStock’s finest. At the same time, I think it’s worthwhile to be mindful of the Lightbox, which features one free image each week.

To buy images from iStock is to comply with either of the traditional systems: credits and subscriptions. The route of credits is particularly appealing, as 15 to 30.000 can be equipped at once with a discount reaching 25%. Additionally, iStock’s homepage presently offers some the agency’s exclusive files at half their standard price. What is more, placing an order via credits is a great way to go because the code ISTOCK14 takes 14% off any order (further information can be found upon clicking the subheading “iStock”).


3. 123RF
123RF is a cardinal stock image source, and one of the industry’s topmost agencies. 22 million photos, vectors, audio and video files are fostered in the agency’s collective vaults, and that number gets bigger and bigger at an average daily rate of 35.000. The most interesting aspect of submittal proceedings surrounds 123RF On-The-Go, which is the company-based mobile application for contributing photographers who may thus upload pictures they’ve captured in the heat of the moment. Yet, regardless of the manner of upload, 123RF’s selection team approves only top-grade content.

Should you sign up for a 123RF account, you are allowed to access a section comprised of 30.000 digital arts, graphics, and audio files. The plethora of stock files encased in that section is given away for free, so you can download whatever you like and it won’t cost a dime. Truth be told, not many microstock agencies can take pride in the same sense of generosity, and this makes 123RF stand out more than anything else.

As means to acquire images from 123RF, users may either prepay for On Demand credits, or enroll in a subscription. The Basic and Premium subscription plans draw on the period of usage: the stronger the commitment, the higher the download rates for a day and the larger the discounts for when you buy a certain stock image. In addition, 123RF has a 100% Money-Back Guarantee, which can be employed whenever customers feel that they may have made a bad call when they chose to buy a specific image. As such, users can lay claim to full refunds in the first 72 hours since a purchase from 123RF has been made.


4. Thinkstock
Thinkstock is a brand which belongs to Getty Images, and it has a unique way of supplying designers and publishers with awesome creative files. In essence, Thinkstock aggregates the content of more than 40 prominent stock agency partners (including iStock and Jupiterimages) in a central location, and then makes it available to the general public. Whenever you buy something from Thinkstock, you’ll notice that the price of a download is fixed even if your choice in size may vary. In addition, codes R4HPC46N and GTDPC46N incur generous discounts to subscription: the fist code saves 20% of a Pro annual subscription, whilst the latter takes 60% off monthly subscriptions.


5. Depositphotos
Depositphotos is one of my favorite stock photo agencies, and it yields well over 17 million photos, vectors, and videos. I suggest you be on the lookout for free weekly giveaways, which occur in the agency’s 2 million-strong vector illustrations section. Moreover, autumn comes with great bargains here, because the Depositphotos Discount Lightboxes feature seasonal images such as those currently placed in the Harvest Time collection (tons of vectors and 314 photos), and makes them available with a 20% discount for the entire course of the season. In order to buy from Depositphotos, prepaid credits or a subscription are in order, and the latter option attaches only $0.15/image to daily or monthly plans.


6. Cutcaster
I am very fond of Cutcaster, which is yet another magnificent source of illustrations, vectors and photos, made available on an entirely exclusive basis. Anyone can browse the files that were surreptitiously organized by topic, yet the ones which most stand out are the flawless 920 images which make up the Crescendo Collection. Cutcaster’s picture collections are also very delightful to look at. You can make a purchase with paypal/credit card, or acquire credits at the conversion rate of $0.89 each. What is more, Cutcaster’s credit packages are subject to various discounts: 19% for Bronze, 31% for Silver, and 39% for Gold.


7. Stockfresh
Stockfresh occupies the next position in my top 10 most noteworthy stock image agencies. The 2.7 million royalty-free vectors and photos are quite a sight for sore eyes. One of the agency’s sections encases over 300.000 clipart, illustrations, and vectors just waiting to be snatched. However, I’d like to draw attention to the fact that Stockfresh must have the friendliest and most comfortable user interface I’ve ever come across. Not only do customers find it very easy to navigate through the website, but if you’re searching for something in particular, Stockfresh made sure you’ll find it really fast. As regards pricings, $4.99 translates into 5 credits, and a monthly subscription is just $99.


8. Bigstock
Bigstock is a necessary addition to my list of preferred stock image suppliers. It commands a collection of 15 million photos, vectors, and illustrations placed at the disposal of creative-minded professionals. The most exciting news on Bigstock’s homepage is the 7-day Free Trial. By signing up for the trial, a user has the opportunity to download 5 images/vectors per day, and re-download as needed. Naturally, the free download marathon can be cancelled anytime. And when the trial ends, you’re left with 35 new acquisitions. Afterwards, buying from Bigstock can happen by credits, or with a subscription. A yearlong subscription for 5 downloads per day comes with the price of $0.35 to each file, whereas credit bundles are discounted with up to 27%.


9. Dreamstime
Dreamstime instated a most appealing offer: 60% discount for 24 hours. To be specific, whenever anyone visits the Dreamstime homepage for the first time, they will set off a countdown and be left with 24 hours to sign up and buy stock images at a stellar price. And there is quite a hefty lot to choose from: 18 million high-resolution vectors and images, diligently gathered over the course of 13 years. Besides, designer customers are privy to the Dreamstime free section of web design graphics, photos, and illustrations, where contributors showcase some of their work in the most agreeable way: by giving some of it away for free.


10. PhotoSpin
PhotoSpin brings my presentation to a close. Its approximately 4 million EPS and JPEG files are placed in the intriguing Premium and Expanded Collections. Buying either of the 1.5 million stock files from the Premium Collection is allowed only after the user settled on a Plus or a Super Plus plan. In other words, the user has to decide on the size of all future image downloads. Alternatively, the Expanded Collection is comprised of 2.4 million photos and illustrations, and the user is required to design his own monthly commitment according to 4 categories, 4 periods of time (1, 3, 6, or 12 months), and finally 16 different subscription plans.

These articles are formulated deep within the Creativeoverflow compound. Picked by hand and posted by the team over at HQ. They usually comprise of new releases, news, opinions, questions, giveaways, freebies and more.