Web and graphic designers need stock photos and graphics on a daily basis. The cost of these resources can add up quickly, but thankfully there are a handful of websites offering outstanding value. Here we’ll take a look at our favorite resources for high-quality photography without breaking the bank.
UNLIMITED DOWNLOADS: 50+ Million Add-Ons & Design Assets
The Cheapest Stock Photo Sites
We have Envato Elements at the top of our list because it offers the greatest value on stock photos and many other creative assets like fonts, video clips, music, sound effects, graphic templates, web templates, and more.
The photo selection at Envato Elements includes more than 3 million images, but subscribers also get access to another 50+ million photos available at Twenty20, which was acquired by Envato.
With access to both Envato Elements and Twenty20, you’ll have all the royalty-free stock photos and graphics you’ll need. The photos and creative resources available at these sites are only available by subscription, and they cannot be purchased or licensed individually. A subscription costs $16.50 per month and provides unlimited downloads to all of the resources.
Freelancers, marketing agencies, design agencies, small businesses, and in-house design teams will love having access to this massive collection of creative resources. Anyone who uses a lot of stock photos, videos, music, fonts, or design templates will find that the value of Envato Elements can’t be beaten. You might pay more than $16 for a single photo or resource at another site, but with Envato Elements you can download as much as you want, placing them among the cheapest stock photos.
As far as the photos are concerned, the selection you’ll find at Twenty20 is different than many of the bigger stock photo sites. They aim to provide authentic photos, so you won’t find a lot of stereotypical stock photos that can look so bad.
Highlights of Envato Elements:
Vecteezy is known as the go-to source for high-quality vectors, but in 2020 they added stock photos and stock videos to the site as well. With a large and growing selection of quality photos and videos, Vecteezy is another amazing resource for designers at the lowest price.
The quality and selection of photos at Vecteezy are very good, although admittedly, it’s not as strong or deep as what you’ll find at the leading stock photo marketplaces. However, Vecteezy more than makes up for it in the details of its Pro subscription.
With a subscription to Vecteezy, you’ll get unlimited access to their full collection of vector images, photos, and videos. Subscribers can download an unlimited number of resources for just $9 per month. That’s less than the price of a single image at most microstock sites.
Vecteezy is best for designers who need and use a combination of vector illustrations and photos. The selection of vectors (including icons, backgrounds, patterns, illustrations, and more) is amazing, and it continues to get better.
Freelancers, small agencies, and bloggers looking to get the most bang for their buck will love Vecteezy.
Highlights of Vecteezy:
3. Canva Pro
Canva is known for its free web-based graphic design tool, but the company also expanded into stock photos. To get access to the full collection of more than 100 million stock photos, videos, and graphics, you’ll need a Canva Pro subscription. You’ll also get access to their collection of 600,000+ design templates.
The collection of photos available at Canva is very good. There are many free photos that come via Pexels, which was acquired by Canva. There are also millions of premium photos only available to Pro subscribers.
Of course, Canva makes it easy to add the stock photos from their site into the work you’re creating with their design tools. If you’re already a Canva user, upgrading to a Pro account is an easy decision.
A Canva Pro subscription currently costs just $9.99 per month, which also includes access to some upgraded tools like a background remover. With a huge selection and a low price, it might be the cheapest stock photo site.
Highlights of Canva Pro:
Stock Unlimited is owned by 123RF (more on them in a minute). Like the others mentioned so far, Stock Unlimited offers unlimited downloads at an outstanding price. They offer royalty-free photos, vectors, and small collections of audio clips and fonts.
While the price for unlimited downloads is great ($79 for an annual subscription), the selection is not as strong as most of the other resources on our list, both in terms of quality and quantity. There are some outstanding photos available at Stock Unlimited, but there are also a number of lower-quality images or cliched stock photos.
Currently, AppSumo offers a limited-time deal for Stock Unlimited. For just $49, you can get a three-year subscription to Stock Unlimited. That means you can download unlimited photos for the next three years for just $49. Get the deal here.
Highlights of Stock Unlimited:
Depositphotos is a large stock marketplace that offers photos, videos, and vector illustrations. Unlike the others we’ve looked at so far, Depositphotos does not offer unlimited downloads. However, their prices are lower than some leading sites like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.
Customers have the choice of purchasing credit packs or going with a recurring subscription. Subscriptions offer the best value, but if you only need a few photos, you may prefer to purchase download credits. The credits are as low as $2.99 per download (100 images for $299). Subscription plans start at $29 per month (allows you to download 30 images) and the highest-priced subscription is $199 per month (allows you to download 750 images per month).
While Depositphotos prices are pretty good, the best values come through discounts and promos. They frequently run specials like 100 download credits for $100, and sometimes better. Promotions are usually visible in a sticky notification bar at the top of the site. You can also create an account for free and get on their email list to receive notifications about sales and discounts. They also occasionally run deep discounts at AppSumo, but those deals don’t last long.
Highlights of Depositphotos:
123RF is comparable to Depositphotos in several ways. The quality of the royalty-free images is very similar. Also, you can choose to purchase download credits or go with a recurring subscription. The prices are also similar, making 123RF a solid value.
A pack of 100 download credits at 123RF cost $299, or $2.99 per image. Subscriptions start at $30 per month for 10 images and go up to $169 per month for 350 image downloads. The subscription prices at Depositphotos are better, which is why we have them ranked higher. But if you’re looking for a low-cost option to download a few photos, you might want to consider 123RF.
Highlights of 123RF:
Bigstock has a pretty good selection of quality photos. It’s not as big as some sites but will meet most stock photo needs. The value comes mostly in pricing.
At Bigstock, you can purchase download credits or a variety of subscription options. Credits start at $35 for 10 credits and go up to $495 for 500 credits. You can get 100 credits for $169, which is lower than the regular prices at Depositphotos and 123RF.
Subscription prices start at $69 per month for 25 downloads per month and go up to $189 for 200 images per month. They also have several subscription plans with daily download limits. The price per image is cheaper than the monthly plans, but if you’re not downloading images every single day, you’re not getting the full value.
Overview of Bigstock:
Storyblocks is different than the others listed here because their emphasis is on stock video footage and video editing. However, they also offer a selection of quality stock photos. The variety and selection are not as strong as what you’ll find at most of the sites listed above, but there are plenty of excellent images available at Storyblocks. They also have a strong selection of audio files for download.
Where Storyblocks shines is in pricing. For $30 per month, you can get unlimited access to all the photos, videos, and audio files at Storyblocks. Cheaper subscription plans are available if you’re only interested in video or audio, but they don’t have a subscription for only photos.
Overall, we like Storyblocks. The value isn’t quite as high (in our opinion) as Envato Elements or Vecteezy, but there’s still plenty to like about Storyblocks. If you’re mostly interested in stock videos, this is definitely a site you should check out.
Highlights of Storyblocks:
9. Yay Images
Yay Images offers a large selection of inexpensive stock photos, but the quality of the images is not as strong as what you’ll find at some other sites. We would compare the quality of Yay Images to what you’ll find at Stock Unlimited.
The value of Yay Images comes from the pricing, as they use a subscription business model. For $8.33 per month, you can get unlimited downloads of photos and videos (extended license included). If you need a lot of photos, you may find enough quality images at Yay Photos to justify the low cost of membership.
Currently, AppSumo is running a limited-time promo on a lifetime membership to Yay Images. You can get unlimited downloads for life for just $149. Get the deal here.
As a designer, you probably use a lot of photos and high-quality images in your work. Even if you’re a photographer, it’s almost always faster to license a stock image. Leading microstock sites like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock offer millions of high-quality photos, but they’re not the most budget-friendly options.
You can’t beat the value offered by sites like Envato Elements, Vecteezy, and Canva Pro for cheap stock images. With unlimited downloads and millions of resources to choose from, they’ll meet almost all of your needs for photography and creative assets, and at very affordable prices. If you need other resources in addition to photos, you’ll absolutely love Envato Elements. With fonts, graphic templates, add-ons, and other stock resources, it’s the best deal you’ll find in the industry.