The 6 Best Sites To Find Cheap Stock Photos

Downloading free photos in 2021 can quickly lead to you copyright infringement issues, even if you use popular sites like Unsplash, Pixabay or StockSnap. Unless you like risk or are very good with a camera, you’re going to need to find a cheap source of royalty-free stock photos.

We’ve shortlisted the cheapest stock photo agencies you can use right now to access high-quality, affordable royalty-free images both with and without subscriptions, and suitable for commercial use on your website.

Let’s get straight to it.

Cheapest stock photo site with a subscription

The cheapest stock photo site is Canva Pro, which has over 60 million stock photos, plus 15 million additional graphics with unlimited usage from $9.95/month.

DepositPhotos has the largest selection of cheap stock photos(over 155 million). Get 30 photos for $29/month.

Cheapest stock photo site without a subscription

The cheapest stock photo site to use without a subscription is StockUnlimited, which offers 10 photos for $9 and has over 1 million photos to choose from. On demand image credit packs last for 1 year.

Top cheap stock photo sites compared

Take a look at this comparison table to see how the top stock image services stack up against each other when it comes to price, selection and subscription options.

 InventorySubscription PriceWithout Subscription
Canva ProOver 60 millionfrom $9.95/month for unlimited photosNot available
Envato ElementsOver 50 millionfrom $16.50/month for unlimited photosNot available
DepositPhotosOver 155 million photosfrom $29/month for 30 photos10 images for $49
StockUnlimitedOver 1 millionfrom $19/month for unlimited photos10 images for $9
BigStockOver 95 millionfrom $79/month for 150 photosNot available
YayImagesOver 11 millionfrom $29/month for 35 photosNot available

6 Best Cheap Stock Photo Sites in 2021

1. Canva Pro (from $9.95/month for unlimited photos)

Canva Pro

Canva isn’t you’re typical stock photo agency, it’s a cloud-based graphic design platform. You can use Canva to design graphics for anything from social media to blog graphics (I use it to design blog images). Its a whole lot easier to use than Photoshop, and comes with built-in image editing tools and access to a collection 75 million images.

Limited images are available for free, or you can sign up to Canva Pro ($9.95/month with annual billing, or $12.95/month with monthly billing). There’s a 30-day free trial but you’ll need to enter payment details to access it.

You can edit and use the photos in your designs, or simply download them on their own to use elsewhere.

Canva Pro includes unlimited licenses for all stock media elements, and are suitable for commercial use. Some images have one-use license, meaning you’ll need to re-download an image if you want to use it more than once. Some images have a multi-license, meaning you can use them more than once without re-download. Read more about Canva’s license agreements here.

2. Envato Elements (from $16.50/month for unlimited photos)

Envato Elements

Envato Elements is a digital asset subscription service that bundles top-quality stock photography and illustrations with videos, audio, fonts and WordPress themes and plugins. At the time of writing, there are 1,655,428 royalty-free stock photos on the platform. You can view the full library here before signing up.

Envato Elements Pricing

Envato Elements has the added bonus of 50 million additional images, via its partnership with Twenty20.

Twenty20 Stock Photos

That means you can access the entire library of over 50 million stock photos, plus video, audio and graphic templates from $16.50/month (excluding tax).

The good news is that all pictures on Envato Elements are suitable for commercial and business use:

All items downloaded from Envato Elements are licensed under the one, single-use commercial license (the Envato Elements license). (source)

Envato Elements is one of the best deals and lowest price subscriptions you’ll find for premium images. The illustrations and graphics are an added bonus, and if you ever need stock video and audio, then it works out even cheaper.

3. DepositPhotos (from $29/month for 30 photos)

Depositphotos

DepositPhotos is an affordable stock photo agency, with over 155 million images to choose from. You can sign up for a monthly plan, or buy images on demand.

Compared to market leader Shutterstock, DepositPhotos is about half the size (Shutterstock carries around 300 million photos), but it is far less than half the price.

Depositphotos Pricing

For the cheapest plan, you can pay $29/month for 30 images, with additional savings if you pay annually. Shutterstock will cost you from $49/month for only 10 images.

If you want to use images from Deposit Photos for commercial use, the standard license will cover you in most cases, as long as you make up to 500,000 copies/impressions, and aren’t creating an item for resale or free distribution where the image plays a “major role in the item and adds value to it”. Extended licenses are only available in the on demand packages, and cost significantly more. See if you need a standard or extended license by reading the examples of permitted use here.

DepositPhotos is not the cheapest stock photography resource out there, but it is when you factor in the amount of choice you will get. If having a massive library of images to choose from is important to you, DepositPhotos is an excellent cheap alternative to Shutterstock.

4. StockUnlimited (from $79/year for unlimited photos)

Stockunlimited

StockUnlimited is a stock photo marketplace with library of over 1 million royalty-free images, including photography, vectors, icons, fonts and templates.

Stockunlimited Pricing

StockUnlimited offers a range of monthly subscription and download options. The $79/year subscription gives you unlimited downloads. With over 1 million photos, StockUnlimited is smaller than all of the other photo agencies in this list, but it makes up for it in pricing and license options.

A StockUnlimited standard license covers commercial use, and doesn’t have any cap on pageviews or image impressions (e.g. you won’t be breaking any license terms if your social media post goes viral). But here’s the catch: if you want to use a photo as a “design element” (e.g. on your website) or sell it as a print (e.g. on a t-shirt), you’ll need an extended licese, whcich costs a flat $20 extra per image.Read more about StockUnlimited’s license terms here.

StockUnlimited is a cheap choice if you mainly need images for social media, print publications or advertising campaigns, but not ideal for website use (e.g. blog post images).

5. BigStock (from $79/month for 150 photos)

Bigstock

BigStock is a premium stock image service that offers a cheap subscription (150 images/month for $79, or 300 for $99). They currently have over 95 million royalty-free stock photos and illustrations, which is huge. Most of the cheap and free photo sites are about a tenth of the size of BigStock, so bear that in mind when making a choice.

Bigstock Pricing

Compared to other large stock photo marketplaces, BigStock gives you a much more affordable price-point. If you use the 5 images/day $79/month tier, each photo will only cost you around 50 cents per image.

Under their standard license, you can use BigStock photos for commercial use, including unlimited use on websites and digital media. The standard license also covers physical printing and merchandise use (up to 250,000 copies). You’ll need an extended license if you want to print more than 250,000 copies, and to use images on outdoor advertising (e.g. billboards), digital templates or free video content (e.g. YouTube). Read the full BigStock license details here.

6. YayImages (from $29/month for 35 photos)

Yayimages

YayImages is a premium stock photo website, that has an ambitious goal of reaching 40 million images by the end of 2020. Currently, there are at least 1 million unique images on the site.

Yayimages Pricing

Subscription packages start at $29 for 35 images, which works out at $0.83 per photo. The $99/month package brings the per-photo cost down to a clean 50 cents.

All YayImages assets can be used for commercial use under their standard royalty free license, including website design, social media, print media and in advertisements. An extended license is only needed when “the unedited image or vector adds most or all of the value to a product” (e.g. printing an unedited photo onto a t-shirt). Read more about YayImages’ license terms here.

YayImages works out much cheaper than its bigger-name competitors like Shutterstock, especially since the standard license covers most commercial use-cases.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stock Photos

Why are stock photos so expensive?

Stock photos are expensive because agencies must pay a commission to the photographer for each image sold. Photographers are paid anything from 15% to 45% depending on the license agreement and exclusivity deal. The cost of professional photography is also not cheap, and the use of professional cameras, lighting and models can be expensive.

It’s far cheaper for you to pay for stock photos than to hire a professional photographer every time you need a snap!

How do I get Shutterstock images for free?

You can get Shutterstock images for free by signing up for a free trial. Use the code PICK10FREE when signing up and you’ll get 10 Shutterstock images. Cancel your new subscription within the first month and you’ll pay nothing.

What does stock photo mean?

A “stock photo” is any image that can be licensed for use by websites or anyone that wants to use the photo. Different licensing types permit different uses.

Where can I buy cheap stock images?

Here’s ourĀ  list of the cheapest stock photos sources in a handy comparison table.

 InventorySubscription PriceWithout Subscription
Canva ProOver 60 millionfrom $9.95/month for unlimited photosNot available
Envato ElementsOver 50 millionfrom $16.50/month for unlimited photosNot available
DepositPhotosOver 155 million photosfrom $29/month for 30 photos10 images for $49
StockUnlimitedOver 1 millionfrom $19/month for unlimited photos10 images for $9
BigStockOver 95 millionfrom $79/month for 150 photosNot available
YayImagesOver 11 millionfrom $29/month for 35 photosNot available

How much does a stock photo cost?

Stock photos can cost anything from free to $15, depending on where you find them. Free images can be found on websites like Pixabay, whereas stock photo market leader Shutterstock charges from $15 per stock image.

Where can I get images for free?

There are many free stock photo websites to choose from. Some of the most popular with the biggest selections include:

Where can I buy stock images?

You can buy royalty-free images from many stock photography agencies, including:

Where can I find free images without copyright?

Copyright-free images are classed as having a Creative Commons CC0 license, which means they are in the public domain. You can find public domain images without copyright by searching the Creative Commons database.

StockSnap.io also provides images under CC0 license, or you can use CC0 copyright-free aggregator LibreStock to search multiple sources at once (including StockSnap).

Copyright-free images still maintain some license conditions for example you “cannot imply endorsement by the author or the affirmer” (for example using a stock photo as a testimonial image). Make sure you check all license requirements before using free or paid images on any project.

Bonus Tip: How to find even cheaper stock photos

Final tip: wherever you get your stock photos from, don’t forget to make sure you resize and compress images to ensure fast website loading times.