Nothing will capture your viewer’s attention quite like a stunning photograph or illustration. However, because of cost, hiring a professional photographer to create an original high-quality print is often out of the question. For anyone on a budget, or in a hurry, cheap stock photo sites are a simple and inexpensive way to add a high-quality professional visual element to web designs and print material.
Aside from low cost, when searching for cheap stock photos be sure the site provides images that are high resolution, royalty free and fully licensed. Keeping those requirements in mind, here are 5 cheap stock photo sites I recommend that all have large selections of cheap stock images to make your project look professional and polished:
One of the best affordable stock agencies on the web, Dreamstime is a stock photo service that separates themselves from much of the competition with one of the most gargantuan databases of stock images, over 28 million at last count. Dreamstime has great filtering tools that make it a snap to search through their vast collection. Additionally, Dreamstime has a limited selection of totally free photos available for download. Dreamstime uses a credit system, but images can be purchased for as low as $0.32 per photo with one of their subscription plans and all images are royalty free.
Some providers of cheap stock photos try to hide what you can and can’t do with the images you buy, but 123rf.com makes their terms easy to understand.123rf.com offers licenses for both using and reselling their images: Standard Licenses which you only pay once to use the images and an Extended License that covers mass production commercial use. Like Dreamstime, 123rf.com uses both subscription and credit based purchase plans. While some cheap stock photo sites accept amateur-quality photos to keep their prices low, the images at 123rf.com are of professional quality for as low as $0.89 per photo.
With Bigstock the name says it loud and clear. If you are looking for really big photos for large pint work, Bigstock has over 20 million royalty-free photographs with some images over 3,000 x 1,000 dpi definition. Like the first two on the list, Bigstock sells cheap stock photos by either purchasing credits at $2 apiece or low-cost subscription plans starting at $79, which lowers the cost per photo to just $0.53. Bigstock has an extended license option which allows you to use the purchased content in any derivative intended for resale. This works out to be much less expensive than other cheap stock photo sites because you pay only for your actual usage needs, which is a great lower-cost solution for smaller business.
Dollar Photo Club
This one is a little different. Dollar Photo Club was created by Fotolia, one of the biggest suppliers of cheap stock images on the web. Dollar Photo Club offers photos for just $1 each, but the catch is you have to sign up for a membership that must be approved by their staff. If approved there is a $10 monthly membership fee, in addition to the $1 per-photo charge. That’s it, just the one take-it-or-leave-it plan at a fixed cost and membership can be canceled at any time. Dollar Photo Club also offers their members an Ambassador Program that allows members to refer others and receive a commission for each new member who is approved.
With over 45 million royalty-free stock images Shutterstock is one of the largest suppliers of cheap stock images on the web. Shutterstock provides two ways to purchase images: with an “Image on Demand” feature which is a strict “pay-as-you-go” system that sets the price at $14.50 per photo; or with a subscription that takes the price down to $0.27 per image with a 30 day package of 750 photos for $199. Obviously, Shutterstock isn’t the best choice if you are looking images for a few bucks apiece. However, if you are someone who uses a lot of images and requires a large selection to choose from than the low per-image price is very hard to beat and will meet the demands of even the most demanding photo buyer.
For more information on affordable stock agencies StockPhotoSecrets provides tips and articles on how to find and buy cheap stock photos online as well as coupon codes that will save you money when buying stock images. If you are new to buying stock photos and need help learning how to navigate the waters the site has a glossary of terms and well as tutorials, interviews and questions and answers on stock photo licensing. StockPhotoSecrets also sells cheap stock images for as low as $0.08 per image where you can download as many as 250 images per week. Visit stockphotosecrets.com for more information.