The Best Stock Photo Websites

Casey Roche
Last updated October 22, 2023

There are several different stock websites, such as paid options like Shutterstock and Adobe Stock or free options like Unsplash and Pexels. Since there are so many websites, you may be confused about which ones suit your needs.

Here, I list 11 of my favorite sites to source free and paid images from for any project you need. These sites offer licenses from personal to professional, and some even offer more than photos, such as graphics, videos, and vectors.

Read on to discover what each site offers to help you find the perfect picture for your next project.

Remember: Before downloading and using stock images, read the license terms to ensure you have the rights to use the photograph(s) in your project.

5 Top Paid Stock Photo Websites

These four stock image websites require a subscription or paid credits to download photos. There are no free options on these sites, but they all offer high-quality images. You will likely find precisely what your project needs on one of these sites.

1. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is one of the oldest and most popular stock photo websites, and with good reason. The Shutterstock library offers high-quality, fully licensed images, illustrations, vectors, music, and videos. 

There are over 2 million contributors to the site, enabling Shutterstock to add hundreds of thousands of photographs weekly. There are currently over 600 million photographs available on the site.

Shutterstock also offers an image generator that uses AI to create the graphic you describe and a simple design tool, allowing you to make basic designs without complex design software.

To download and use content from Shutterstock, you need to buy credits, which can be done in one of three ways. You can buy a once-off pack of credits, between 2 to 250 credits, or you can subscribe to an annual or monthly subscription. The subscriptions offer a certain amount of credits each month that replenishes each month.

2. Adobe Stock

Adobe offers different design, illustration, photo, and video editing software, so it makes sense that the company has created its own stock library. Adobe Stock offers over 300 million photographs for users to use in both personal and commercial projects. 

Adobe Stock also has an extensive library of vectors, videos, illustrations, audio files, fonts, and more for users to choose from. There is also the option to generate AI content using the Generate feature in Adobe Stock. This Generative AI is featured in certain Adobe products, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and Firefly.

To download and use assets from Adobe stock, you can sign up for a yearly or monthly subscription with varying credit amounts or purchase once-off credit packs. Each asset costs a certain number of credits. Your credits will roll over to the next month, depending on the subscription you are on.

3. iStock

iStock (previously iStockphoto) is an image, video, music, and illustration stock library created by Getty Images. The stock database is the oldest around, as it was established in 1999. The expansive library ensures you will find the assets you need for your projects.

You can sign up for a one-month free trial to access high-quality, royalty-free images, but to continue using the database, you need to pay a monthly subscription or buy credit packs. Each subscription or pack offers a certain number of downloads per month.

iStock also offers a basic video and image editor to create simple designs without using complex and expensive software for minor edits.

The cost for subscriptions and packs is relatively high, but getting access to the high-quality and expansive library is worth the price.

4. Getty Images

Getty Images is a well-known stock website offering high-end photographs, videos, and music files. The content on Getty Images is curated by expert videographers, photographers, and illustrators to provide only the best content in the expansive stock library. There are also generative AI features, allowing you to create any visual you’d like.

Getty Images works alongside iStock and the free stock library, Unsplash (coming later in the article), to offer a broad range of content and pricing options for every type of creative from beginner to expert.

Getty Images is best suited for large companies and high-end brands because of the expensive pricing. You can buy once-off packs or sign up for a subscription by talking to the sales team.

5. Envato Elements

Envato Elements is a popular platform among creatives as it not only offers an extensive photo library but there are several digital assets on the platform as well. You can find stock photos, video templates, sound effects, graphics, fonts, and more. This platform is the perfect one-stop shop for your creative needs.

Envato Elements only offers a monthly subscription, including unlimited downloads for all the creative assets on the platform. You can also sign up for a team subscription to save money for larger teams and projects.

Envato Elements has a smaller selection of stock images than the other websites on the list, but the range of other creative elements and the low price make it a decent choice for specific creatives.

6 Top Free Stock Photo Websites

While the above options offer an expansive library or high-end and high-quality stock images, you may need to find a few budget-friendly options. While you may be limited when looking for particular photos, you will likely find a suitable alternative on one of these free stock photo websites.

1. Unsplash

Unsplash is a free stock photo website offering free images you can use in commercial and non-commercial projects. There is no attribution required, but it is appreciated. The library is one of the largest free-stock libraries, with over 1 million free photos.

Unsplash is also integrated into many platforms, allowing you to access and use images immediately in your projects when working in Figma, Trello, Notion, and more. The site is easy to navigate, with a simple search feature to find the image you’re looking for. You can also browse through collections or popular features.

Unsplash recently added a paid section called Unsplash+, where users can access and download unlimited premium content for around $12/month.

2. Pexels

Another top free stock photo website is Pexels, which offers an extensive library of free content. The site is easy to navigate and offers multiple search options, including searching by color when you must stick to a particular color palette. 

Pexels has been integrated into Canva, so you can easily add stock images to your image when designing on the platform. Pexels also offers several plugins for programs like Photoshop, Figma, Sketch, and Adobe XD.

Images sourced from Pexels are free to use in commercial and non-commercial projects if you follow the license agreement.

3. Pixabay

Pixabay is another top free stock website offering over 4 million royalty-free images for use in both commercial and non-commercial projects following the license agreement. The site also has illustrations, vectors, videos, and music files.

The site is easy to navigate, with an advanced search option to narrow your search results. Pixabay is also one of the few sites offering free illustrations and vectors, which can be hard to find.

Platforms that have integrated Pixabay include Canva, Adobe Spark, Photofy, a WordPress plugin, and more.

4. Burst by Shopify

Burst is a free stock photo website powered by Shopify to offer eCommerce-centered images for your business website. The pictures include retail, business, money, and products, making it well-suited for the industry.

The library is smaller than the others, offering thousands of images, but the niche is specific, and if you are looking for photos for your eCommerce site, you’ll likely find exactly what you need here.

You also have the option to download low-res images, which are perfectly sized for web platforms.

5. Freep!k

Freep!k (previously Freepik) is an often overlooked site for stock images because it is primarily used to source vectors. However, there are thousands of stock photos from various categories. The site is a good option if you are looking for graphics and images, as you will find it all on Freep!k.

Using images from the site requires attribution, and I recommend you check out the license agreement to ensure you are using the images correctly.

6. Vecteezy

Vecteezy is primarily a vector site offering free and paid vectors. However, there is an extensive stock photo library to search for images to use in your projects. Vecteezy has a more complicated license than other sites and requires attribution when using free images. You can also sign up for a subscription, which gives you more usage rights.

The site has a well-designed search function and offers thousands of images to browse and use. Be sure to check the license agreement before using any images.