4 stock photo sites reviewed

Taking a great photo requires a combination of a good camera, perfect timing and positioning, enough spare time and a bit of talent to boot. Even the best photographers can’t create on-demand images, instead merely going with the flow and capturing circumstances as they unfold.

So what happens when we have an immediate need for a particular type of picture? Well, the best way of getting one would be, of course, to search online. But many pictures are copyrighted or available only in lesser quality, with higher-quality versions needing purchase.

Stock photo sites can be an exception: their purpose is to fulfill people’s needs for quality photography without having to wait or deal with low resolutions. Stock photo sites are plentiful – some are free, some make you pay for each image, and others fall somewhere in-between. Which ones will give the most for the least amount of money, or even offer photos completely free? Here are 4 great examples.

 Stock Photo Sites

  • iStockPhoto.com: could be considered the mother lode of stock photography. It has what’s probably the most impressive portfolio of stock photos you’ll find anywhere on the web – if you can imagine it, there’s probably a high-quality picture of it on iStockPhoto. There’s just one problem: virtually every image on the site is for sale only, with few to none free options available. The pricing plans are, well, pricey, and probably won’t satisfy you if you have a constant need for good images. iStockPhoto is best used when you need that one perfect image you can’t find anywhere else – there are better and cheaper alternatives in most other cases.
  • Shutterstock.com: The other big subscription-based site, Shutterstock also features quite a few images that come with a ‘free’ copyright license and can be used as necessary. However, as you might have expected, you’ll have to pay up to get some real variety. As is the case with iStockPhoto, the prices are fairly steep and will probably have you looking for free alternatives, although the site’s purported 60 million+ pictures should cover just about every specific need you might have.
  • picjumbo.com: Don’t feel like paying for an image that wasn’t even taken by a professional photographer? Many consider picjumbo to be the king of free stock photo sites. The page is run by a talented photographer named Viktor Hanacek who distributes all of his pictures for free(including for commercial uses), with some affordable premium plans also thrown in there. The photo variety is staggering for a one-man effort, and the picture quality is always top-notch.
  • FreeImages.com: With a little under 400,000 pictures, FreeImages have nowhere near the selection to compete with some of the larger subscription-based sites, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of bookmarking – there are plenty of diverse categories from close-ups to landscape/panoramic, and nearly every one features thousands of free-to-use images that could otherwise cost you a pretty penny. The site also has a highly-functional search feature that lets you navigate the hundreds of thousands of pictures without too much trouble. For those wanting more, there’s also a cheap premium option that adds many new categories to the fold.