Where to Buy Cheap Stock Photos

Updated: Apr 21, 2021 / Article by: Jerry Low

A well-designed website keeps visitors coming back repeatedly to your website. It is essential to get the right visuals that convey a message that resonates. A picture is worth a thousand words, and using the right photos will do precisely that.

Sites that offer free images for use are generally very limited in nature. That’s when sites that sell them come into play. The problem is – they’re usually expensive. If you’re looking for some cheap stock photos, check out this list we’ve built for you.

1. Depositphotos

Depositphotos

Price: From $0.27 per image

Founded in 2009, Depositphotos is a creative content marketplace specializing in buying and selling stock photos, vector images, and videos. It is a leading global microstock agency with one of the fastest growth rates in the world.

Why Depositphotos: Excellent Search Filters for Stock Photos

Depositphotos lays claim to a collection of over 144 million stock photos, including some royalty-free images that come for free. There are tons of images added weekly, which means new ones are always available for download.

The photo search feature on Depositphotos is granular with many options. A search we tried out for “dog” showed the options available, including portraiture, point of view, date added, orientation, and more.

Customer support services are available via phone, live chat, and email – all of which are 24/7. Don’t worry about expensive support calls since they have global toll-free numbers.

How Depositphotos Prices Images

Photos are available either via a subscription plan or on-demand. Generally, the more you buy, the cheaper the rates will be per photo.

Subscription plans are billed monthly or annually, with images costing between $0.27 to $0.97 each, depending on the volume you select per month. Unused downloads in any month will roll over to the next.

On-demand plans don’t come with a fixed commitment. However, if you opt to buy them this way, prices increase significantly. The lowest rate is $2.99 per image, and that stretches upwards to $14 per image.


2. 123RF

123RF

Price: From $0.70 per image

Founded in 2005, 123RF is one of the world’s largest microstock agencies. It is an acclaimed agency that has won several awards. Their customer list includes Apple, Google, and Amazon. Monthly it has over 25 million visitors and 186,000 downloads. 

Why 123RF: Massive Photo Library

There are over 166 million royalty-free stock photos in the 123RF database, held in 90 categories. These cover a wide range of topics that sometimes come out as a little strange, for example, “New York.”   

While the category may not make that much sense, a click on “New York” alone shows more than 441,000 images available – of the city skyline. In their “business” category, results were even wilder, with over 24 million matches.

Filtering to find the photos you need is also quite extensive. These include sorting by relevance, media type, orientation, number of people, freshness, style, color, and words to be excluded. 

Interestingly, 123RF offers some editing tools to make quick changes to the photos you purchase. These include filters and effects, auto enhancement, and background removal. It’s not fantastic but impressive that they thought of it.

New images and trending photos are added frequently on the homepage. This format is handy if you check their site regularly for fresh additions. All images fall under one of four usage types: Standard, Extended, Comprehensive Extended, or Free.

Customer services comprise 24/7 live chat, toll-free phone, and email. Also, there is an information help center.  

How 123RF Prices Images

123RF prices photos in great detail, allowing you to pay for the exact image resolution you want. That means things can get expensive if you intend to use them in print. For web use, it’s good news, though.

You can either sign up for a subscription plan or buy images on demand. Prices on the subscription plan are much lower on a per-photo basis but signing up for this means a fixed commitment each month.

On-demand buyers will follow a “Credit” system. Depending on your use case (and image resolution), each photo will cost a certain number of credits.


3. JumpStory

JumpStory

Price: From $16.25/mo – Unlimited Access

JumpStory is a newer entrant on the stock photo scene, popping up only sometime in 2018. It’s a European agency that has since spread to over 150 countries, hitting more than 44,000 monthly visits and 10% growth. 

The agency’s avant-garde photos achieved through AI techniques offer new insights into photo presentation. 

Why JumpStory: Best Distinctive Stock Photos Using AI

Despite being new, JumpStory has achieved a collection of 25+ million stock photos. The key aspects of JumpStory are the simplicity in features achieved through AI and the affordable pricing structure.

The quality of photos is stunningly high, and this is emphasized repeatedly on the website. If you are looking for images that are of distinctive quality, this agency fits the bill. JumpStory is also into experimentation with new technologies such as the heavy usage of AI techniques.           

The site has online photo-editing software, which is pretty easy to use. You can crop, adjust contrast and insert text. Background editing features are equally user-friendly. The tools also use AI and can do impressive things like instantly remove image backgrounds.

The search filters have been kept simple with three options. They are location, orientation, and color. Meanwhile, an archive feature allows photos to be kept for later use. The editing tool enables the conversion of images to different formats.

Customer support is solely through email. If you have questions, they encourage you to review the FAQ section before contacting them. 

How JumpStory Prices Images

JumpStory has a straightforward pricing structure that is easy to understand immediately. It is suitable if you are looking for cheap stock photos and images. There is a single plan with monthly or annual billing available.

Rates for the monthly plan start at $25, with annual billing dropping to $16.25 per month. Both rates are for single users. All plans have a 14-day free trial period during which you get virtually unlimited access.


4. Unsplash

Unsplash

Price: Free

Founded in 2013, Unsplash is a Canadian agency that allows photo sharing at no cost. The agency’s mission is to build a global creative, open platform.

They have 48 million monthly visits and see more than 128,000 downloads each month. It passed the three-billion-image download in 2021. Monthly visitor growth at 6.5% and download growth at 15.41% are promising figures. 

Why Unsplash: Best for Free Stock Photos

Unsplash has 2+ million stock of high-resolution photos, with a large number being copyright-free. This includes over one million curated images. Their image repository is expected to increase since Getty Images have acquired the company.

Photographer communities contribute the majority of photos here. The frequent contributions from different photographers on the same subject offer inclusive insights. You have the choice of deciding which will best suit your use case.   

The categories of photos include Business & Work, Technology, People, and Current Events. The number of contributions is listed below each category, giving you some idea of how many other images fall in that same category.

By clicking on a particular photo, the contributor’s details are seen. Below it, many related images make it easy to review other images on the same subject. Alternatively, use the Visual Search tools to search for similar images. 

Something relatively unique here is the ability to search for an image source. If you drop a photo you have onto the Visual Search tool, it can tell you where that image appears. 

 A help center is available on Unsplash, but it’s pretty rudimentary. It mainly relies on blog content that offers some “how-to” guides.

How UnSplash Prices Images

The Unsplash License states their photos are free to download. The photos can be used for commercial purposes with no requirement for permission. This is better than getting cheap stock photos.

With the Getty Images acquisition, though, it’s expected that some form of commercialization will take place. They’ll either use it to direct buyers needing more to their site or simply absorb the content.


5. YAY Images

YAY Images

Price: From $0.16 per image

YAY Images is a North European microstock agency founded in 2008. The agency offers high-quality, licensed, cheap stock photos. The monthly visitor count is  89k+ with a 0.87% monthly growth.  

Why YAY Images: Best Money-Back Guarantee

The stock library has 11+ million stock photos and vectors with 100,000 weekly additions. There are partner perks with IBM, LiveChat, and Google Cloud for startups, with discounts totaling $300k+. If you are a startup, check them out.

The royalty-free collection has a moderate range of categories ranging from business to technology. However, the pictures are of high-resolution quality. There are several categories of photo filters. These include orientation, number of people, minimum resolution, color filters, freshness, and keyword exclusion.

Customer support comprises email and live chats. Their office addresses are stated on the website. YAY Images has an impressively comprehensive FAQ – I recommend giving it a read just to check it out. 

How YAY Prices Images

There are three plans at YAY; Subscription, on-demand, and credit packs. Also, there is a special unlimited plan. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The subscription plan is on monthly or annual terms. Monthly rates for 40, 100, and 260 images per month are $19, $49, and $99, respectively. The annual rates for the same number of images are $159, $249, and $509, respectively.

You can transfer unused downloads to the following month, and all downloaded images get lifelong usage rights.

On-demand plans are on monthly and quarterly terms at $29/mo and $79/quarter. There is access to a lifetime download history and an extended license.

Image credit packs came with 50, 100, or 200 images for $79, $119, and $199 respectively.

The special unlimited plan is for a limited number of buyers (it showed ‘23 seats left’ when I hit the site). If you like what you see on the site, the $99 price for this plan is an absolute steal.


Bonus Suggestion: AppSumo

AppSumo

I know some of you might be wondering what AppSumo has to do with things. After all, you’re looking for stock photos or images and AppSumo mainly sells, well, apps, right? 

Nope, AppSumo is more about deals than apps and they sometimes have awesome rates on some services as well – like subscriptions to sites that sell stock photos. 

In fact, when I went on their site and did a search, one of the sources I’ve listed here popped up immediately – YAY Images. Even more gob-stoppingly, AppSumo offered YAY Images for free.

If that doesn’t give you some ideas, I have no idea what will.

Conclusion

The sites we’ve looked at for cheap stock photos all seem remarkably good. They offer an excellent range at affordable prices. What makes them unique is not just pricing but also some site features, so consider your choice carefully.

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About Jerry Low

Founder of WebHostingSecretRevealed.net (WHSR) - a hosting review trusted and used by 100,000's users. More than 15 years experience in web hosting, affiliate marketing, and SEO. Contributor to ProBlogger.net, Business.com, SocialMediaToday.com, and more.