What Are Some Alternative Sites to Shutterstock?

By Jack SteinLast Updated June 24, 2020
Photo Courtesy: @Shutterstock/Twitter

In the past, it was sometimes difficult to find good quality stock images for your projects, but it has become a relatively simple task these days, thanks to image services like Shutterstock. In fact, with more than 340 million royalty-free images available for download, Shutterstock is one of the most renowned stock photo websites in the marketplace today. The website's history, reputation, quality of service and competitive prices make it a favorite choice for many users across the globe.

However, the company’s rates — $29 per month to download 10 photos per month with a one-year commitment — may be competitive with other paid sites, but it’s still a pretty steep price to pay for a few photos, and not everyone can afford that rate. Thankfully, some websites allow you to download royalty-free images and use them at no charge. Let’s take a look at some of the best Shutterstock alternatives (free and paid) you can try out in the future.

Adobe Stock

If you already use Adobe image editing applications like Photoshop and Illustrator, then the Adobe Stock service could be an ideal Shutterstock alternative for you. It has millions of royalty-free assets like images, vector illustrations, graphic templates and video clips to choose from, and it fully integrates into the Adobe Creative Cloud platform. 

Photo Courtesy: @adobestock/Twitter

Adobe Stock plans are similar to Shutterstock and start at $29.99 per month for access to up to 10 downloads each month if you make an annual commitment. If you want to pay month-to-month without a contract, the $29.99 price only covers three images per month. Adobe usually offers a one-month free trial, and you can download different resolutions at no extra cost. This saves you the time and hassle of editing images when you need smaller file sizes, and lower resolution images will do the trick.

iStock

iStock, formerly known as iStockPhoto, was founded in 2000 and is now a subsidiary of Getty Images. The site is most renowned for its highly curated library, which includes millions of high-resolution images that are divided into two main categories: Essentials (budget, non-exclusive content) and Signature (high value, exclusive files). Both categories are packed with royalty-free vector graphics, photos, videos and audio libraries. 

Photo Courtesy: @istock/Twitter

Like Adobe Stock, iStock offers subscription plans that are similar to Shutterstock, making it a reasonable alternative if price isn’t an issue. A basic annual subscription provides access to 10 images per month from the Essentials collection for a monthly rate of $29. The rate increases to $40 per month for month-to-month plans. Access to the Signature collection requires a monthly rate of $70 for 10 images per month with an annual subscription. Alternatively, you can purchase credit packs (required for videos) without a monthly subscription, but the cost per image is much higher.

Pixabay

Pixabay is powered by an active community of creatives who share copyright-free images, videos, vector graphics and illustrations. These images are released for use under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensing, making them safe to use either personally or commercially without giving credit to the artist — although it’s certainly polite to do so — or asking for their permission. 

Photo Courtesy: marcelkessler/Pixabay

Apart from this remarkable feature that makes it a huge money-saver on virtually any project, Pixabay also has a user-friendly interface. Throw in an overall catalog of more than 1.8 million images, and it’s easy to see why Pixabay is one of the best free Shutterstock alternatives in the marketplace today.

Unsplash

With more than 2 million premium stock images available, the Unsplash collection might come up a bit short on quantity compared to what Shutterstock offers, but the site holds its own when it comes to high-resolution photos. The Unsplash community consists of more than 200,000 photographers who share hundreds of new photos each day — completely free of charge. 

Photo Courtesy: Dibakar Roy/Unsplash

Despite the size of the image catalog, the site has a quick load time and is organized into numerous categories to help you find the right images for your projects based on content type. You can also quickly search the site using keywords to find more specific images. 

Pexels

The catalog of more than a million Pexels images can be used for both personal and commercial purposes based on Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licensing. To be available for download on the site, the images must be professional quality, and the end result is high-quality imagery that can perk up any project without costing a dime. Apart from people-centric photos, Pexels also boasts a fairly large number of outdoor photos, such as landscapes, buildings and crowds.

Photo Courtesy: Luca Nardone/Pexels

SplitShire

SplitShire is another great Shutterstock alternative that puts quality above quantity. Unlike other stock photo websites, all the Splitshire photos are uploaded by Daniel Nanescu, a graphic designer, professional photographer and owner of the website. You can share the different images on various social media platforms or use them on your work projects. They are all available free of charge for both personal and commercial use.

Photo Courtesy: Daniel Nanescu/SplitShire

Foter

With more than 335 million free stock photos, Foter certainly deserves a mention as an ideal Shutterstock alternative. However, the layout of the site isn’t nearly as intuitive, with the home page focusing on categories for interior design ideas and related products rather than images. You have to enter keywords into the search bar to bring up a selection of photos. Of the site’s photos, 220 million can be used for commercial purposes as long as you give credit to the photographer. 

Photo Courtesy: Foter

All Foter images have an embedded code used to create web pages with HTML. Additionally, Foter's Lightbox tool allows you to compile your favorite photos from the website. Unlike Shutterstock, Foter provides several details about the photo like size, attribution, quality and type of license when you click your preferred photo.

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