Sometimes, finding eye-catching and properly licensed visuals for your projects is difficult. You cannot use internet pictures for web promotion, as you can break copyright laws. And requesting a photoshoot to create the necessary photos is costly. What can you do in this case?

You can explore stock image marketplaces. These platforms offer pre-made pictures that you can buy once and use indefinitely. This way, you don’t need to arrange photoshoots. Read on to find out how to buy stock photos, and examine five trustworthy online libraries in this article.

Where to Buy Stock Photos

Specialized platforms offer you to buy stock images online. Marketplaces replenish their libraries with trendy, realistic photos; digital art; and hand-drawn illustrations. Contributed images are properly licensed to use in your commercial and creative projects.

The stock photo industry provides two main collaborative models: macrostock and microstock. Macrostocks are large platforms offering exclusive photos from high-skilled photographers. Generally, macrostocks deliver content under a rights-managed license, granting you duration-limited exclusive usage rights. The RM license covers a particular project, so you have to buy a new one to use the same picture in another project.

Microstocks are platforms offering average to high-quality content; all creators can sell their pictures there. Generally, microstocks provide content under a royalty-free license that grants partially limited usage rights that differ depending on the platform. You can buy a stock photo once and use it in multiple projects with no extra fees. Nonetheless, a royalty-free license means that the copyright belongs to the contributor.

Reputable brands buy content for their promotional activities on macrostocks. Nonetheless, microstocks allow start-ups, marketing, and design agencies to enrich their commercial projects with high-quality images. Check out five dedicated microstock platforms below.

Being one of the best places to buy stock photos, Depositphotos provides content creators with 230+ million high-quality photographs, vector illustrations, clip art, videos, music tracks, and sound effects to use in their projects. Advanced filters allow searching for suitable pictures. You can sort results by orientation, color, date, location, point of view, contributor, season, and time of the day. The Search by Image tool lets you create an integral visual style, as you can seek similar licensed photographs when you already have a picture you’d like to use.

To download paid unwatermarked images, you must register and select a pricing plan. You will automatically get a free 7-day trial with 10 complimentary premium downloads after registration. The platform offers budget-friendly subscriptions and on-demand plans; you can also choose payment terms and the number of downloads. Moreover, brands can consider the Enterprise solution to get licensed photos at special, negotiated prices.

Dreamstime is a large microstock that offers you to buy low-cost, royalty-free images. In the thematic picture collections, you can browse free trendy photos. To find visuals for your project, apply advanced filters and search by Pricing, License, and Media Property options. Moreover, you can clarify your request with tags and narrow search results. You can also look through vectors, illustrations, video, and audio collections if you need specific content. The platform curators update featured collections and popular, requested categories so that you can find inspiration for work and personal creative projects.

You must purchase a subscription or credit package to be able to download paid stock photos from Dreamstime. The platform allows choosing the duration and number of monthly downloads for customization.

This stock photography platform connects professional contributors with publishers, designers, and marketing and PR agencies. Photocase curators thoroughly select all photos before publishing them on the site. Using the advanced search filters, you can browse content by keyword, ID number, and specific contributor. The platform provides a lightbox option that allows you to create personal collections and download them in a ZIP archive. Photocase primarily focuses on offering unconventional scenes you might find intriguing for your projects.

To download paid pictures, you can consider direct purchasing or getting a credit bundle. The direct purchasing option allows downloading found images one by one. However, you can save money and buy credit bundles to get a fixed number of photos at special, set prices.

This convenient photobank offers over 116 million royalty-free pictures that suit commercial and personal projects. The platform focuses on selling realistic, bright images and videos. To explore popular collections, look through top categories and trending keywords. BigStock offers minimalistic functionality so that you can find licensed visuals easily. The platform allows selecting image or video files and sorting them by popularity and license type. You can also turn on the Safe Search filter to block explicit results. 

The platform offers multiple subscriptions and credit packages for downloading stock photos. After registration, you can start a free 7-day trial to get up to 35 premium royalty-free images.

Alamy is a stock photography marketplace that features royalty-free pictures from international contributors. The library gets replenished with fresh photos, vectors, and videos every day. You may find the historical archive featuring pictures by iconic photographers interesting. Also, journalists can appreciate the live news feed collection where they can find editorial images for their articles. 

You can filter images by location, the number of people, orientation, style, viewpoint, and date to search for specific photos. Alamy also allows searching for similar images in the library by uploading files from your device. To buy chosen stock photos, you can add them to a shopping cart or purchase them individually.

Who Can Buy Stock Photos on the Platforms?

Marketing and design agencies, independent content creators, and brands can benefit from stock photos. Platforms frequently distribute content under a royalty-free license, so you can buy several pictures and use them at your discretion. For example, when working on three similar projects, you can download preferred pictures and use them in all tasks. 

To save money, consider paid plans, as they help you reduce the total picture cost: the bigger the fixed number of downloads in a plan, the lower the price per picture. Businesses that engage multiple content creators in their activity may also appreciate special enterprise plans that connect several users to one account.


Copyright laws restrict using most pictures on Google for commercial purposes. And arranging private photoshoots takes resources that can be crucial for start-up brands. Stock photos are a great solution for your commercial projects. Stock image platforms offer curated collections, trendy categories, and advanced filters to easily search for licensed visuals.

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