Sometimes clichéd & unoriginal & often shot by laymen yet extremely in-demand among medium and small companies, stock photos might be a win-win option to create low-cost and quality imagery for literally every purpose. In fact, the power of stock photos is still undervalued by many even though there are dozens of top-notch photo stocks that players with a limited budget take advantage of when creating a website, brochure, editorial, or completing any other audience-engaging errand that shouldn’t be overly unique.

Indeed, stock photography is much quicker, usually cheaper (unless you buy photos for $499 at Getty Images), and perfect for completing a range of goals including mock-ups: yeah, you can visit photo stocks to refill with life-giving energy or buy premium stock photos on Focused Collection or elsewhere and refine them into a coherent whole that fits your purpose.

One way or another, you should know where to find those budding shots. So, whether you run behind schedule and have no time to arrange a photoshoot or just want to save the budget for nobler goals, feel free to take advantage of the best tips on picking quality stock photos on reliable photo stocks.

1. Check the Relevance of the Photo Collection

The main indicator of a versatile image repository is the accuracy of the search return. No matter the website states it encompasses 200 million photos or only 1 million, the relevance of the content is what really matters. To check whether the photo stock suits you, enter your main search request (say, ‘business’) and, if you love what you see, follow it with a more specific one (say, ‘business growth’) to reveal if the stock has the potential you need. Indeed, the total size of the photo stock may not correlate with the number of photos that you are interested in.

And if the photo stock passed the preliminary checking, feel free to narrow down the search by enabling an advanced search by topic, size, orientation, location, color, etc. That might work for you, especially if you are dealing with a huge database.

2. Look for Quality Photos, But Don’t Overpay

In a world of plenty, a lack of quality in images is just unacceptable. High-quality images look equally good on all devices, garner a greater number of views, decrease bounce rate & increase user engagement, etc. Visual content is King, no doubt, and it’s no use in sacrificing the quality of images. On the other hand, sometimes you need nothing but a 640 x 480 picture. If that is the case, make sure to pick the photo stock that sets lower prices for low-resolution images (all renowned repositories do that).

woman taking photos with classic camera

3. Stay on the Legal Side of the Fence

If any photo is worth a lawsuit, that is an exquisite $500-worth-photo stolen from Getty Images. That is, of course, a joke. Make sure the shots you download are royalty-free and can be modified. All photo stocks explicitly state the legal terms that cover the photos they have to do with and these terms are really worth reading.

4. Don’t Neglect Paid Photo Stocks

The word ‘free’ is magical to most of us, but the truth is that sometimes we should pay to get what we want. Luckily, prices for paid stock photos are rarely pocket-burning– most stocks offer you a subscription plan for about $30-$70 per month with 10-100 images included. Might be a good deal, huh? Below are the three paid photos stocks to get on your radar:

  • Shutterstock. Home to millions of high-quality images, illustrations, vectors, photographs, as well as video and music content, Shutterstock is probably the world’s most famous royalty-free photo repository along with Getty Images, Depositphotos, and a few others. Whether you prefer to search by categories or keywords, you are destined to find the image of your dreams here since Shutterstock encompasses millions of photos by thousands of authors. The good news is that the prices here are quite bearable – on-demand packs are worth $49 and $229 for 5 and 25 images; monthly subscriptions start at $49 for 10 images up to $249 for 750 images (yeah, only $0.33 per shot, quite a bargain). Last but not least, you can use the inbuilt Shutterstock Editor to create engaging Instagram/Facebook/Twitter posts, ad banners, blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, etc.
  • Depositphotos. Filling creative needs at Deposit photos is a worthwhile choice if you have at least $9.99 to subscribe for a monthly plan equipped with 10 buckshee shots. There are more than 120 million images to take advantage of, as well as you can get any shot at a sub-dollar price (except for pictures for resale and print runs). In addition, you can use an inbuilt Search by Image option to hunt for similar-to-uploaded photos.
  • Fotolia. With millions of images, templates, and 3D assets available at Fotolia, you are all set to fill gaps in the imagery of your brand or achieve whatever goal is set in front of you. For better or worse, I would like to share a 2-step lifehack on how to grab a few photos for free from paid photo stocks: 1) find a photo stock like Fotolia; 2) use a free trial period to your own benefit. Even though Fotolia isn’t that cheap – monthly subscription costs from $29.9 to $199 – you can grab 10 shots for free as a part of your 1-month trial.

photographer and female model in photo studio

Closing Thoughts

There are thousands of classy stock photos on the web, but there’s also Photoshop and other editors that you can use to finalize the image to the perfection you are craving. Don’t hesitate to pick photos that need refinement since that is a proper way to attain uniqueness, which, let’s admit that, most stock photos lack. On par with that, it’s usually your diligence and patience in search that determines the final result, not the availability of perfect through and through shots at the photo stock. Thousands of masterpieces are crying to be unearthed, and it’s not that hard to dig them out as long as you dig with the right shovel and in the right place.