Considering Paid Stock Photos?

If you’ve never purchased stock photos before, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some sticker shock. The average stock photo prices can range from $20 – $35 per photo. Even though price alone might stop you from using paid stock images, there are reasons to consider going the paid route. Let’s run through a few:

Ease of Use

While free sites are getting better navigation and filtering capabilities, they still don’t compare to the ease of use on a site like iStock Photo from Getty Images, and as a business owner time in rare supply. Sometimes simply being able to find what you’re looking for quickly is well worth the money.


As soon as you start browsing free stock sites, you notice that you recognize a lot the photos. You’re not the first business owner who searched, “woman smiling at a dental office.” This gives paid sites a leg up. The cost you were so concerned about early on, now helps you find unique images for your marketing campaign.

What are their rules about publishing?

One drawback to Paid Stock are the legalities that come with them. The main players like iStock & Shutterstock have very straightforward policies, but make sure you understand their terms before purchasing.

Some stock photo sites require that you credit the site even though you have purchased the photo. This is incredibly useful information if you plan to use the photo on more than one site, want to use it as a background picture on your website, or simply don’t want to credit the original site.

2. What size photo do you need?

Most stock photo sites will charge you based on two things: a) what size photo you are trying to buy and b) how you will be using said photo. If you need a high quality, high-resolution photo – you will be paying much more than just buying a picture to go onto social media or to match up with a blog post.

If you plan to use your stock with your website, you don’t need an image size larger than 1900 pixels wide.

Additionally, consider how you want to use the photo. Licensing rules are usually far more strict when you use the picture for a resale item than they are if you are just plugging it into your website.

3. Is there a catch?

Unfortunately, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Read all of the licensing information before you spend your hard-earned dollars. In the end, photos for a specific need may be cheaper if you hire a professional to take them.

Here’s Our favoite Paid Stock Sites:

Here are our favorite stock photo sites. Every site from #5 down provides free pictures, many of which don’t have licensing restrictions. However, be sure to take a look at all licensing requirements before dedicating yourself to any particular site.

1. iStock Photo
2. 123RF
3. Canva
4. Shutterstock
5. Fotolia

Here’s Our favoite FREE Paid Stock Sites:

Personal Favorite – Unsplash
2. Negative Space
3. Death to the Stock Photo
4. PicJumbo
5. Stokpic
6. KaboomPics
7. Pixabay
8. Startup Stock
9. Free Range
10. Fancy Crave

Need Help?

As you can see, there are many, many stock photo sites from which to choose! If you are overwhelmed or need assistance in finding the right stock photos and design for your website, to help you convey your marketing message on social media, or to match your brand in Google Ads, let us know! Cornerstone Studio is a full-service digital agency that specializes in helping small businesses – just like yours. Contact us today.