Top 5 Stock Photography Websites

Good quality images are imperative to any commercial website; clients and readers are more drawn to strong images than large blocks of text. The best way to find good quality images is to explore the many stock photography websites online; it is also more cost-effective than hiring a professional photographer.

How Does Stock Photography Work?

Most stock photography websites offer a credit based system. Whereby you purchase credits based on your image requirements. There are usually two pricing models: single image download or a subscription based package. A subscription package would make more sense to creative individuals who will require images on a day-to-day basis, whereas if you are only after a single image, the onetime download makes more sense.

What Makes a Good Stock Photography Website?

There are millions of stock photography websites online, so what makes one website superior to the other? A vital element to consider is essence of speed, this is crucial when trailing through images; therefore the onsite search functionality is an important factor to take into consideration. A good website will offer the ability to filter results to make ‘the find’ as quick as possible. The format in which the results are presented also needs to be clear and offer the ability to view as many, or as little as required, allowing one to adjust how they search for images. Related imagery is also a beneficial tool particularly when working on a campaign. A website that offers variable payment terms, subscriptions and one off purchases are also a key advantage depending upon the nature of your business.

Here are the top 5 stock photography websites that tick all the boxes and are great for ecommerce businesses:

Getty Images

Getty images are one of the first companies to license imagery online, distributing high quality photos from an exclusive list of photographers. With an average of 3.2 billion thumbnails and 4 million users it’s no wonder as to why they are the leading provider of digital media.
The library of images available is possibly the most visually stunning and the detailed search onsite helps better target image requirements. The beautiful imagery does however come with a slightly higher price tag in comparison to other Stock photography websites.


iStockphoto is the more commercially recognised website for stock photography. It has been referred to as the ‘original source’ for royalty-free stock images online. There are almost 3 million photos and vector illustrations of exceptional quality and at affordable prices, with credits starting from as little as $1. The website also offers the functionality to filter based on price you are willing to pay for images. iStockphoto also tend to have more lenient licensing standards in comparison to Getty Images.


Founded in 2003, Shutterstock has very rapidly become one of the largest subscription-based stock photography agencies. As well as exceptional images, Shutterstock also offer a variable credit subscription which can prove to be highly cost effective if you require images on a daily basis.


Fotolia is one of the first social marketplaces for royalty free stock photography; not only can you buy the images but Fotolia also allow individuals to legally share images and illustrations. With 9.8 million stock photography and vector illustrations available, Fotolia is rapidly growing to compete with the giants in stock photography.


With a huge gallery containing over 350,000 high quality images, this may not offer advanced search functionalities as some of the websites listed above and it may not have a huge range of images but the main aspect of this website is that it is absolutely free.

Jasmine Begom is a designer with Dhub design agency in London. Dhub specialize in website design, ecommerce websites, CGI and 3D visualisation, custom applications and digital marketing.

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