What are Stock Images?

Stock images are a powerful resource available to marketers. Through stock photo marketplaces you can purchase off the shelf imagery for any occasion or campaign.

These marketplaces offer a range of prices and image styles and no one site is going to fit every project. But they are useful tools in taking a project to the next level.

Benefits of Using Stock Images


Creating your own imagery is often unrealistic for many companies and therefore it’s better to buy or use ready to go pre-shot photos rather than commissioning your own.

For a lot of marketing materials, custom images are not always necessary. It’s often okay to use stock images available online that meet your requirements.

These can be a lot easier to manage than paying for custom images that require graphic designers or photographers.

High Quality and Professional

Stock images are often captured by some of the world’s best photographers.

By using stock image marketplaces you can enjoy the benefits of high quality photography for pretty much any occasion. The standard of stock imagery is high and you’ll be able to find something for your needs with relative ease.

Large, Easily Accessible Collections

The internet is swimming in both free and paid stock photo marketplaces. There is no shortage of photography and imagery.

This level of competition between marketplaces drives the quality higher, and the price lower. It’s never been easier to take your pick of high quality photography.

Even a simple Google search returns large amounts of stock images for your search query. Today let’s look at four different stock image marketplaces to compare and contrast the differences between them.

Top 5 Stock Image Libraries

1. Pixabay

Pixabay. is a high quality stock image library populated with 100% free images by photographers all across the world. The website offers high quality images that are free to use commercially or personally without any attribution required.

It is by far my most used image library and has given me images for my homepage, my blogs and countless social posts.  It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who needs hgihquality images on demand.

2. Unsplash

Unsplash shares a lot in common with Pixabay (high quality, free images, with no credit required), but offers access to a different library to help fill your needs. It is a high quality stock image library populated with 100% free images by photographers all across the world. I love Pixabay, but Unsplash is quickly moving up the ranks of libraries I search first. Speaking from personal experience they have a huge amount of beautiful photography.


3. Shutterstock

Shutterstock is one of the largest stock image libraries in the world. This image library can be used on an ad hoc basis or with a membership plan.

You’ll have to pay for your images here, but its a etter bet if you are looking for something very specific.

I recommend paying for the plan you’re likely to get the most benefit out of. For example, if you require 25 images on a monthly basis then there’s a plan for this option.

Similarly there’s a smaller plan for mini users, who need only 5 images per month. If you only need one or two stock images then buying them on a need-to-have basis is probably the best strategy.

4. Getty Images

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets throws looks to throw a pass in the third quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 10, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Getty Images has a wide selection of stock images from both the present and the past. You can get access to leading content partners such as the TV show Lonely Planet, and also historical archival images and videos.

Getty is by far the most expensive library on this list, but they are also the only site that gives access to a wide range of editorial photos. You can get publicity shots from feature films, current sporting events or even news stories of the day.

Getty Images claims to have the world’s largest visual archive. It’s also possible to get exclusive access to iconic images and videos, as well as broad commercial reach.

5. Adobe Stock

Adobe image editing software is regularly used across industries on a daily basis.  Adobe also offers a high-quality stock image library that works seamlessly with the existing Adobe software packages.

The Adobe Stock image library gifts users 10 free stock images with a 30 day free trial. This in itself is a fantastic offer as it allows users free access that they can cancel anytime within the month.

For a simple, risk free stock image marketplace that works with gold standard image editing software, I would highly recommend Adobe Stock. If you’re a stock image user who uses stock frequently then this is a fantastic resource for Adobe users.

Wrap Up

In this post we looked at some of the best stock image marketplaces available on the market. We looked at how we can have access to thousands of high quality stock images for free (through Unsplash or Pixabay) and also to millions of premium stock images through paid stock image library options (such as Adobe Stock or Shutterstock).

There will be a lower level of choice in free marketplaces as opposed to paid marketplaces, however I always recommend checking out free image libraries as a first option. For any stock you purchase, it is paramount to pick the platform that offers the best distribution and reproduction permissions.

For anyone who is a content creator, stock image libraries are extremely valuable for off the shelf, ready to use solutions. There are millions of stock images to choose from on the internet, and the marketplaces in this blog post have highlighted a few of the best.

As the pace at which fresh photo and video content becomes more demanding, it’s important to browse and take note of the best resources for stock.  Do you have any favorite stock image marketplaces? Please feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear what options you like the most.

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