When you first encountered the challenge of building a website or a blog you soon realized the need for interesting and compelling imagery and that stock photography merchants are a great source for obtaining images that fit nicely in with your content. For larger projects, the use of stock images is often the only practical option.
There are a number of merchants who provide this service, many of whom have been in the business for a good many years. Most of these merchants maintain an inventory that ranges in size from very large to huge (millions of images).
You will almost always be able to find a selection to choose from that fits within your budget. Many products are quite affordable and some are free. You can always hire a photographer or a graphics designer, but you would find that taking the stock image approach will usually be far less expensive and a time saver as well.
You may already be using the services of a merchant, or perhaps more than one. I have several favorites, each one of which is fully capable of providing high-quality photos.
iStock is the pioneer among stock photography providers. This merchant is also hugely popular among those who take advantage of their huge product line. You’ll find wide selections of high-quality photos and images, plus sound effects, videos, music and vectors to choose among. Most images are provided on a royalty-free basis.
If you sign up now and place an order, there is currently a 20 percent discount available to new customers. In order to take advantage of this discount, which covers iStock’s entire product line, you need to use a minimum of 30 credits, which can be purchased ahead of time. All you have to do to make sure you get 20% off the normal price is to simply type in the code SUMMER20 at checkout.
Even if you are not in any need of stock photography items at the moment it would make sense to sign up. This merchant’s huge inventory will then be instantly available when you are in need of one or more items.
While iStock is my favorite at the moment, Alamy is a strong number 2. This merchant has a selection of over 18 million stock items to choose from. With such a large inventory at your disposal, finding exactly what you want or need should never be a problem. If you do run into difficulties, it might be it having to choose among a number of equally attractive or useful items.
Your search through this vast product line will be a pleasant one however thanks to Alamy’s user-friendly search engine. Rather than trying to navigate through the site, which can be difficult for newcomers, simply click on the “For Buyers” button and you’ll be off to the races..
One good reason Stockfresh is among my favorites is their user interface. It is a real time saver as it enables you to find what you are looking for quickly an easily. The Stockfresh product inventory is not as large as what some of the other merchants offer but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality.
Registering has its advantages, but you don’t have to do so to make a purchase. You’ll find shopping here a pleasant experience, and you’ll find each and every article to be of superior quality. Stockfresh does not have room for mediocre items in their product line.
If you do sign up for one of their subscription services however, you’ll be given the opportunity to take advantage of one or more of the discount specials offered periodically, some featuring savings up to 50 percent. There is also an affiliate program that is free to join. If you have your own website or blog you can advertise Stockfresh services and earn a commission on purchase made to people you have referred to their site.
Photofolio’s business model is what makes it one of my favorite stock photo sources. It treats its providers well. Those providers are the photographers, artists and designers who produce the high-quality images that go into the Photofolio collection. They are given generous commissions in line with the quality of the items they provide.
These commissions can at times be up to 60 percent of the eventual retail price of the stock item. The commissions some merchants offer seem designed to keep their provider in the ‘starving artist’ category. It should come as no surprise that a merchant that treats its suppliers so well treats its customers well also, and places a significant value on customer satisfaction. I’ve found this to be the case and I’m sure you will as well if you look to Photofolio as a possible source for your stock photo requirements.
PhotoSpin, Inc. has not been in business as long as a few of the other stock photo services but it is still one of the pioneers in this business sector. It was PhotoSpin who introduced the concept of an image subscription program 15 years ago. The program has both changed and improved over the years. Today a subscriber can access up to 50 file downloads at a time and up to as many as 1,000 each month. Being a subscriber has some definite advantages if you work with large numbers of stock images.
This merchant also has an affiliate programs. It will give you contextual texts and/or advertising banners to place on your website or blog. Visitors who click on these advertisements will be referred to PhotoSpin. If they make a purchase, you will receive a 15% commission. This is a higher commission rate than most affiliate programs offer and is certainly higher than most stock image sources with affiliate programs are willing to offer.
During the 10 years it has been in business, Media Bakery has put together an impressive collection of stock photos, music files, vectors and videos. The collection currently consists of over 10 million items.
Roughly 2 million of these items have been assembled into Media Bakery’s Microstock Image Collection. This collection largely consists of this merchant’s more affordable items, items that retail from $1 to $50. Browsing through such a large collection might appear to be a challenge, but thanks to the sophisticated search feature this merchant has provided, finding what you are looking for turns out to be a relatively easy task. This merchant is among my five top favorites because of the ease in which I find I can navigate through their site, and also because shopping at Media Bakery is a painless experience.
The reason for Shutterstock appearing on this list is not only because of the material this merchant has to offer, but also because of its global presence. This New York-based company can be reached at 150 locations around the world, in addition to conducting transactions on line. As far as online transactions are concerned, you can seek what you’re looking for in any of 20 different languages. This merchant is favored by many professional artists and graphics designers, not only for its availability of fine stock material, but for its impressive business model as well.
When you choose Corbis Images as a source of stock images you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store. Image after image is any eye-opener and the Corbis collection as a whole could be summed up as being simply fantastic. The images in this collection are available on a royalty-free basis, which means you are free to use them commercially as well as for your own personal interests. The collection is broken down into various categories designed to make it easier to locate what you are after.
Instead of searching through a vast collection to find what you want, Snapwire does it for you. The way they go about it is to take your detailed requirements and forward them on to a freelance artist who then creates a photo or an image that has been customized to fit your needs. You get what you’re looking for without having to do an extensive amount of searching, and you don’t have to settle for something that is not exactly what you want, but close. The person who creates the image you seek is a professional artist, but you will end up paying far less than what many professionals might charge for their services.
Most photos stores their collection of professional images on cloud nine, or so it may seem. When you are in the market for stock images you may not necessarily expect to come across truly professional examples every time, but you likely will with this merchant. Not only is the quality of over 7 million royalty-free images somewhat hard to grasp, there is a constant stream of fresh, high-quality material in the pipeline. The merchant is well worth a visit of you are a graphics designer or are in the business of designing and constructing blogs and websites.
These ten stock photo providers are my favorites, at least at this point in time. They all feature high-quality material at affordable prices, and most of what they offer is royalty-free. Their business models may be similar in some respects and quite unique in others but all focus on customer satisfaction, and on supplier satisfaction as well. If you have a favorite that does not appear here, and you believe it should, please let me know so I can acknowledge your input and perhaps pay that merchant a visit.
Here are some images that you can buy from these agencies: