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iStockphoto Alternatives

Updated on January 13, 2016

Let's face it...

3,127,864 registered members, over 4 million images contributed by over 50,000 photographers at the rate of 27,000 images per week. iStockphoto is the largest microstock agency alive.

They have changed the way photographers work and the stock photography business forever. They are the first to provide stock footage and audio too. Their archive quality is still unmatched in the industry.

I have been using iStockphoto since 2004. Before it was acquired by GettyImages, a standard resolution file could be downloaded for 1 credit, then they made the images smaller so you had to pay 2 credits to get that same size, now its 3 credits and counting. To top it off they have altered exchange rates and raised credit prices.

For designers, what was once an inexpensive alternative to purchasing more expensive stock photos has slowly become less so. Despite raises, the site's popularity continues to grow.

I have been looking for alternative providers for some time. I have tried many and here are the sites I find useful.



Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at reasonable prices. All stock images available are provided by Dreamstime community's photographers, shot on film or digital and approved by editors. Structured on categories and subcategories, the database is renewed with thousands of fresh images and titles on a daily basis.



Fotolia is the first worldwide social marketplace for royalty free stock images, allowing individuals and professionals to legally buy and share stock images and illustrations.

Fotolia offers the largest image bank of free and affordable royalty free photos and illustrations perfect for any medium, web or print.



BigStockPhoto provides designers with an alternative to high-priced stock photography, in addition to providing photographers with a marketplace to sell their work.

BigStockPhoto offers highest quality print and web resolution images - both photos and vector art - for virtually every use.


123 Royalty Free

123RF offers a single subscription option where you can get access to a wealth of high-resolution images. Alternatively, you may purchase credits and download images, all for a very low rate. One of the oldest players in the industry. Around 7.5 million images.



Graphic river has more than just stock photos. It is a marketplace for Graphics, Design Templates, Textures, Vectors, Isolated Objects and Icons.



This site is subscription only, you cannot buy single images. You can subscribe for a month, three months, six months or one year, and download up to 25 images per day. One month subscription is $249. They also have an on demand plan which you can download images any time for up to one year for $49. Overall archive quality is very good.



This is a relatively new player in the field. They offer subscription and single-order credit plans. Prices vary depending on the plan you choose, and they accept all popular payment methods, including SMS. One credit is one dollar and medium resolution images are 2 credits. They have a growing archive of 2 million images. The archive quality is OK.

Vote for your favorite and help others pick their next microstock agency. After voting, why not tell the world why you love or hate that agency? Use the reader feedback section below to tell us what you think.

Your Favorite Agency?

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Offline Stock Photo & ClipArt Collections - Remember the old days?

There are many great cd and dvd collections on sale today. Most of these archives are specialized, meaning that you can buy thousands of images on the same subject for a bargain price.

Free Alternatives

There are free alternatives too. Although the quality of their archives are below average, they make great alternatives for casual use.

Why Switch?

If you're here, you must be looking for an alternative provider. What is your reason for switching?

What bugs you most about iStockPhoto?

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Comments? Suggestions? Your Favorites?

© 2009 WizzyFX


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