It goes without saying that images are at least as important as the actual writing in any blog, article, web site of any kind. But good images can be expensive. If you’re not careful about the licensing you can land in a pile of expensive trouble even if the mistake is totally innocent. Finding high quality, royalty free stock photos which are also cheap stock photos isn’t tricky as long as you know where to look.

These are my recommended stock photos and images resources. You can usually find something great to use that won’t break the bank. These are the best alternatives to iStockPhoto. Plus, I’m mad at Getty Images for recent aggressive tactics to go after small businesses for huge fees alleging use of licensed photos where the use is unintentional via a third party supplier, without notification and warning prior to obnoxious letters demanding massive fees. You won’t find any Getty products on my list of recommended alternatives to iStockPhoto and Getty Images (Getty owns iStockPhotos). I’d rather support stock photo agencies that play nice with the folks that support them, like me.


123rf stock photos logo

They’ve got a good variety of high quality royalty free images. The pricing structure is kind of confusing at first glance but once you figure it out it’s actually a good deal. Especially compared to the bigger outfits.

Here’s an example of their lowest priced monthly plan.

  • @ $89 for 30 days getting 5 images/day = $2.96/day for a total of 150 images which = $.59/image
  • @ $229 for 30 days getting 26 images/day = $7.63/day for a total of 780 images which = $ .29/image
Up to a one year plan:
  • @ $749 for 365 days getting 5 images/day = $2.05/day for a total of 1825 images which = $.41/image
  • @ $1899 for 365 days getting 26 images/day = $5.20/day for a total of 9,490 images which = $ .20/image

Or on demand:

  • At roughly $1/credit (down to $ .86 per credit for larger packages) images run from 1-10 credits. Most of what you’d want to use on a web site runs from 1-3 credits so that puts the average image somewhere between $2 – $3 per image. Clearly the packages are a better deal.

They also have vectors, audio and some really killer video clips. Video is becoming more and more popular in current trends of web design and the selection here for the price is great.

Click here to browse 123RF



Fotolia royalty free stock photos logo

This is a great resource. It’s easy enough to find quality images and videos for really reasonable prices.They also have a good selection of vector images.

  • Prices range from $2/image if you buy the 5 images for $20 pack down to $ .32/image if you buy the 1000 images for $640 pack.
  • For a monthly subscription price of $249 you get 750 photos which works out to be $ .33/image. That’s a great deal.
  • Prices for video footage depend on the size and resolution. Credits cost $1.12 – . 70 per credit and videos range from 10 – 75 credits each. So for example a medium video at $30 would cost around $30 and and HD 1080 video at a cost of 75 credits would work out to be around $75 (using an average price of $1/credit depending on your credit package). Of course with all of these plans, the more credits you buy the less the per image/video item costs.

Fotolia royalty free stock photos sample
Something to keep in mind with the daily download monthly subscriptions is that you have to download your photos within the 24 hour window or you lose the credits. It’s a “use it or lose it” scenario. I find that if I make it my morning coffee project I don’t forget and spend half an hour or an hour searching for and downloading my 25/day images. It’s a great way to bank images for upcoming articles and projects but it can also be a pain in the butt when you realize you have 30 minutes left on the clock to go get 25 good images.

I think they’ve got one of the best selections of videos for websites and blogs around for the price. Video used properly on a website or blog can be really effective. It can also annoy your user to death and make them want to run screaming from your page so use it carefully.  Here is one I think would be fun on a site to call attention to a “Buy Now” button or something similar.


Click here to browse Fotolia


Deposit Photos

Deposit Photos stock photos logo

I have a really easy time finding great photos here without doing too much searching. They have a current feel to them and are really reasonably priced.

  • They offer a pay as you go and a subscription model.
    • For example in the Pay As You Go plan credits are around $1 per credit, with plenty of great photos available for 1 download credit. Buy 30 credits for $32, 50 credits for $50, $100 credits for $95, 150 credits for $140 and 500 credits for $455. This is a great deal for high quality images with enough variety to find what you need.
    • You can get the image price down to $ .21 per image with the Daily Subscription plan of 200 images per day for $1259 per month. A gazillion price points in between for daily and monthly plans.

Deposit Photos sample stock photo


Click here to browse Deposit Photos