7 Best Stock Photo Websites for Graphic Designers

7 Best Stock Photo Websites for Graphic Designers (Paid & Free)

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Graphic designers are often struggling with curating fresh content for their design projects. While they excel with their designing skills, finding new pictures to integrate within the layout is a challenge for many.

This is where stock photography sites come to the rescue!

Stock photography websites are filled with readily available images in every niche possible. Many are one-stop shops for a wide range of stock media, such as vectors, illustrations, fonts, music, video, and the like. It makes these stock photography web services a designer’s best friend.

Our best stock photo services list will tell you what’s in store for everyone, including graphic designers. Stock photo websites especially pitch their products to graphic designers.

But what is stock photography? And do graphic designers benefit from stock media? Do they really help graphic designers save time and money? Let’s learn more.

What is Stock Photography?

Stock photographs are a collection of ‘ready’ images that users can license for a specific project. They are available in both - free and paid modules.

The illustrations offered on these sites can be as simple as a business logo or as complex as page layouts on a website. They are widely used by organizations to sell, advertise and promote their brand, products, and services.

We all know visual content is essential, and you may even contend that photos have a higher priority than words. As indicated by one report, 63% of online customers rate great pictures as “vital” to their buy choice—above “product-specific information,” long descriptions, reviews, and evaluations.

The interest in visual substance isn’t going anyplace soon, which is uplifting news for graphic designers. Yet, it very well may be challenging to keep up with production. That is the place where stock photography becomes possibly the most crucial factor.

Stock Photo Licenses

Images that you acquire through a stock photo agency may come with certain restrictions. Remember that not all images you purchase offer all kinds of usage. They generally come with license restrictions.

A stock photography agency is a great way to get quality images fast and cheaply. Still, you need to understand some essential licensing matters. These terms express how images can be used with authorization and what the buyer or user needs to comply with to utilize free or paid-for images.

Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons or CC is a license used by photographers to offer their snapshots for free. However, the user still has to comply with specific licensing articles to utilise the image. What if a creative commons licensed photo is used? The creator or owner has to be credited for the picture with the copyright symbol. In that case, you cannot use the images for commercial purposes (advertising, digital ads). The user should be mindful that this option is available so a photographer can get noticed for their work.

Royalty-Free (RF)

Royalty-Free or RF is a licensing term used in the stock media industry for stock photography that enables a stock photo buyer to use a purchased photo as many times as the stock agency license outlines in their terms and conditions without paying a royalty to the photographer.

Stock photo agencies did not want to track how many times a buyer used a photo, hence the term royalty-free.

Rights-Managed (RM)

Rights-Managed or RM is one more licensing term used in the stock photo industry that limits the use of a picture with strict terms and conditions but provides the buyer with more exclusive use of the photo. Rights-managed images give the buyer exclusive rights to a photo and a set amount of copies for some time.

It ensures the buyer that this photo will not show up on every blog, website, or digital media, making their use look mainstream instead of a picture that could set their business apart from others.

Public Domain (PD)

PD stands for Public Domain, a word used for images whose copyrights have expired. If a photo is in the Public Domain, no terms specify how the images can be used. PD images are generally not as well shot as stock photos or custom photos but can provide you with what you need.

Editorial Image License

An editorial image refers to an identifiable person (celebrity) or place (white house) or event (royal wedding) that has a fixed licensing terms that define how this kind of photo can be used. Editorial images usage requirements are different from Royalty-free images. The significant difference is that an editorial image can not be used in marketing or advertising as the subject is a public figure, event, or place that has the right to determine how its image is used.

Extended License

Extended refers to a licensing option that enables a buyer to use a photo in more than the regular Royalty-Free rights and includes using the image or photograph on commercially sold assets. This license is more exclusive and expensive. It includes more uses than other licensing options but has definitive uses.

The agencies offer different types of licenses that discuss the types of uses, the number of times you can use them, and any restrictions attached with the image.

You must understand them as a graphic designer or a content creator. The list below offers the best licenses, ideally suited for graphic designers’ uses.

1. Shutterstock (Paid)


Shutterstock has been one of the best, most popular, and successful stock photo agencies in the stock photo industry since its launch in 2003. Shutterstock boasts one of the most extensive stock photo, video, illustrations, vector art, and music collections. Shutterstock updates its library weekly with a strict review process, and you can get exclusive and high-quality content.

Shutterstock is a one-stop shop for individuals and businesses alike. Shutterstock offers the best market competitive prices for both photographers and customers. Their monthly subscription options are probably the best choice around for high turnover agencies and graphic designers.

Besides a risk-free, one-month free trial, Shutterstock offers ideal month-to-month, annual subscription and on-demand packs for single, multiple users, and large enterprises.

You can also get fantastic Shutterstock discounts by using a coupon code.

Best Features

  • Free image resizer
  • Supports multiple plugins
  • Access to Shutterstock editor
  • Access to online file converter
  • Shutterstock is available on Android and iOS platforms

2. Adobe Stock (Paid)

Adobe Stock

Owned by Adobe, the design software giant, Adobe Stock is a stock photo service. With Adobe Stock, you can get over 100 million premium high-quality and high-resolution royalty-free images, illustrations, vectors, high-definition video, audio clips, templates, and 3D assets.

Adobe Stock is integrated with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications. It also has rollover benefits that applies to the 3, 10, and 40 standard assets per month plan.

You can rollover 120-480 idle licenses from month to month, depending upon your plan. In case you cancel your membership, you’ll lose any unused licenses.

Adobe Stock’s pricing model contains a month-to-month subscription of 3 standard assets a month for $29.99. Their annually committed monthly subscription of 10 common assets a month with a 30-days free trial costs $29.99.

Credit packs which give you full access to adobe stocks’ entire collection of premium assets, start from $49.95 and go up to $1200.

Best Features

  • You can get premium content while using Adobe’s creative cloud application
  • You can rollover 120-480 unused licenses
  • Supports multiple plugins
  • Pools licenses with configurable access for midsize to large enterprises

3. Getty Images (Paid)

Getty Images

Getty Images is moving the world with creativity and boasts over 400 million pieces of royalty-free content from more than 320,000 of the world’s best creatives. Getty Images serves more than a million customers worldwide.

Getty Images has resources tailor-made to innovative, editorial, cinematic, music, and blog content. They offer legitimate assurances with direct authorization, promising “limitless reimbursement.” You can demand Premium Access to get iStock photographs too.

You can search, save and share lots of creative snapshots, as well as editorial and archival imagery – anywhere and every time you need them.

Getty Images is enabling both customers and partners to tell their stories with greater creativity and accuracy.

Getty Images offers a number of pricing models. This includes packs for large, medium, and small images with varying definitions to support different budgets and requirements. Their single pack of small images with low-resolution videos costs $125, and a single collection of large images with 4K and HD videos cost $499 per download.

Best Features

  • A massive repository of content to choose from
  • No daily or monthly download limitations
  • You can use purchased packs for a lifetime anytime, anywhere
  • Getty Images app is available on Android & ios platforms

4. StockPhotos.com (Paid)


Build with designers in mind; you can find a legally safe ideal stock photo at StockPhotos.com. The stock photography site provides access to over 7 million hand-selected premium budget-friendly royalty-free images, vector illustrations, and fonts. Besides millions of high-quality stock photos, stockphotos.com provides an AI-driven image upscaler for free that lets you enhance and upscale any low-resolution image.

You can also get special offers and discount coupons at stockphotos.com for well-known stock photo agencies like Shutterstock, istock, stockphotosecrets, Getty images, and many more.

Stockphotos.com offers a low-cost and flexible pricing model for individuals and enterprises.

A limited-time-only 99 club is their best plan that costs $99 for 200 royalty-free high-quality stock photos without daily or monthly download limitations. Additional downloads are also available for 99 cents per download.

Best Features

  • High-quality images for as low as 99 cents per image
  • Free image upscaler
  • Provides discounts and special offers from renowned stock photo sites
  • Supports multiple file formats and plugins

5. Pixabay (Free)


This website is truly a graphic designer’s best friend. Pixabay has a splendid collection of royalty-free, high-quality, and high-resolution photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music. You can easily explore and find your desired content with advanced search features, and on top of all that, it is completely free.

Pixabay releases all content under the Pixabay license, making them safe to use without asking for permission or attribution to the artist, even for commercial purposes.

Best Features

  • Millions of high-quality and high-resolution stock photos are available for free
  • Advanced search engine with a safe search feature to block adult content from the search result
  • You can use the content on Pixabay freely for commercial and non-commercial projects
  • You can share content directly to social media handles like Facebook, Twitter.

6. Unsplash (Free)


Powered by creators globally, Unsplash is the internet’s source of free and usable images. Unsplash is a stock photo website that offers high-resolution, stunning, and unique photos.

You can sign-up for free or freely download high-quality stock photos from Unsplash. All images have an Unsplash license, which lets you use stock photos for commercial and personal projects without attributing the source.

7. PikWizard (Free)


PikWizard holds a stunning library of over 1 million stock images and videos. These are royalty free and safe for commercial use, with no attribution required.

What makes PikWizard stand out is you can take each image and edit on graphic design software, Design Wizard. And the images of people are also great!

  • Best Features
  • Over 1 million high-quality stock images and videos
  • Graphic design software attached
  • Adobe and Shutterstock sponsored features on the website (these are clearly labeled)
  • Excellent images of people

Best Features

  • Vault of more than 2 million images to choose from
  • Unsplash is available on the ios platform
  • Supports multiple plugins
  • Images may be used for both individual and professional purposes


Custom photography is an excellent option in many cases. However, it is not always practical. Stock photos help reduce budgets, are readily available, and assist in expanding your design capabilities.

Our list features the best stock photography websites, including both paid and free options. Graphic designers in 2021 can surely benefit from them. Since these stock photo sites use their assets in commercial projects, you can indeed find the images you need.

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