The 4 Best Stock Image Providers

When you need photos, illustrations, or vector images for a project, a stock image provider is a valuable resource. Images found on popular stock photo sites are taken or created by skilled contributors and made available for use under various licenses, including royalty-free, rights managed, and extended or enhanced.

Paying for a stock image subscription costs much less than setting up your own photo shoot or hiring a team to create custom images. If you run a small business, this difference in pricing makes it possible for you to incorporate professional-quality images into your website, social media campaigns, and marketing materials without draining your budget.

Images grab the attention of prospective customers or clients and increase the engagement potential of all types of content. Browse these four top stock image providers to find the media you need to boost visibility, increase quality leads and encourage conversions.


Run by Getty Images, iStock is a well-known source for stock images. The company was founded in 2000 and provides artists with “a platform to make money with their passions by licensing” a variety of content types to users.

Range of Images

Signing up for iStock gives you access to photos, illustrations, vectors, and infographic resources. Video and audio content is also available. Millions of offerings are divided into 20 categories, making it easy to find just what you need for every project.

Quality of Images

iStock contributors set the image dimensions, so available sizes vary across the site. The standard resolution is 300 dpi, meaning every image you download is high-quality and ready for use in a variety of layouts.

Comparison of Price Plans

You can purchase iStock credits or sign up as a subscriber. Different images and media types require different numbers of credits to download. Credit packs start at $12 for a single credit and go up to $2,400 for 300 credits, and credits never expire.

Monthly subscription pricing is divided into all-access and “essential images only.” All-access starts at $99 per month for 10 image downloads; a similar essential plan starts at $40 per month. A yearly subscription with a limit of 750 images per month will cost you $333.25 if you want all-access and $166.58 if the essential image collection is enough to meet your needs. Unused downloads roll over into the next month.

Semisatch / Shutterstock


Another site owned by Getty Images, Thinkstock brings together images from across iStock and Getty collections to provide a comprehensive database of content for all your creative endeavors.

Range of Images

An expansive list of categories houses millions of photos and vector images designed for presentations, social media, websites, and more.

Quality of Images

If you’re planning to use Thinkstock’s images on the web, you can download at a resolution of 72 dpi to preserve quality while ensuring fast page load times. Images are also available at 300 dpi for use in projects requiring higher resolutions. You pay the same amount regardless of the resolution or size you choose.

Comparison of Price Plans

Signing up for Thinkstock gives you access to all file sizes and all content types. Images are reusable in many types of projects, so once you download an image, you have a license to continue using it indefinitely.

Sign up for the number of downloads you need, starting at $49 for five downloads per year. Larger businesses can get access to 250 images per year for $1,499. If you prefer an annual plan, your options include:

  • 1 Year Flex 50: 50 downloads per month for $139 a month.
  • 1 Year Pro: 25 downloads per day for $208 per month.
  • 1 Month: 25 downloads per day for $299 per month.

Yearly plans offer additional benefits exclusive to subscribers.

Adobe Stock

Previously branded as Fotolia, Adobe Stock offers individual images and collections to make it easy to create cohesive presentations.

Range of Images

When you browse the millions of pieces of content available from Adobe Stock, you’ll find:

  • Photos, vectors and illustrations
  • Premium image collections
  • Editorial images
  • Templates
  • 3D content, including models, lights, and materials

Quality of Images

The dimensions and resolutions of images across these collections varies. Be sure to check the specific content you want to see if the desired quality is available. Most images are provided at 300 dpi.

Comparison of Price Plans

Adobe Stock subscribers receive 10 free images upon signing up. Choose from their subscription plans to meet your needs for stock content:

  • $29.99 for 10 images per month.
  • $79.99 for 40 images per month.
  • $169.99 for 350 images per month.
  • $199.99 for 750 images per month.

These prices reflect a monthly breakdown for annual subscriptions. Paying month-to-month requires a larger investment at each level.


With 90,000 content pieces uploaded daily from 300,000 contributing artists, 123RF boasts itself as “one of the world’s largest digital stock [agencies].”

Range of Images

You’ll find over 90 million photos, vector images, icons, and infographic resources available on 123RF, and the collection is always growing.

Quality of Images

123RF’s stock images are available in JPG and TIFF formats at 72 dpi for web use and 300 dpi for professional projects. Sizing varies by image, and larger images cost more to purchase.

Comparison of Price Plans

Although 123RF offers a selection of free images, you get a wider range of options if you choose a paid option. Download packs of five images are available for $39, or you can get 25 images for $195. Choose “on demand” credits starting at 40 for $39 and ranging to 400 for $353.

Annual subscriptions include:

  • $59 per month for 150 images monthly.
  • $119 per month for 200 images monthly.
  • $159 per month for 780 images monthly.