Top Sites for Free or Low Cost Stock Photos

It is no question that we are more motivated by visuals. If we can see it, we are more interested in it. Website developers, bloggers and even online retailers understand that simply describing something is not enough. Anything that is accompanied by an image will instantly attract more people than those without a photo.

Stock photos can really help you convey your message more clearly. However, scouring the web for stock photos can be a time-consuming venture. Then when you finally find the perfect picture, you must pay the photographer for his or her work, which can end up being very expensive. Downloading an image without permission can prove to be even more costly because of licensing and copyright laws, so it is always better to pay a smaller fee upfront than to pay a bigger price in the end. Of course you can always take the picture yourself but depending on the subject matter this can prove to be impossible.

If you are on a budget, there are several royalty-free or low fee sites that can alleviate the financial burden of paying for licensed stock photos. Often all that you will need to do is join a service that requires a small fee. Paying that fee will open up the range of images considerably, and will deliver big rewards. Listed below are some sites that offer either free or fee-based stock photos.

Free Stock Photo Sites

Flickr/Creative Commons: This is where most people start. It is a very valuable resource for images. Depending on how an image is licensed, it can be downloaded for free for both commercial and personal use. Just make sure you understand the different licenses.

Stock Exchange: This is a service that is provided by Getty Images. You would simply need to sign up for an account and you will be given access to over 300,000 images. The best thing about it is that these images are completely royalty-free.

Freerange Stock: This site is more of a community of both amateur and professional photographers who upload their works so that anyone can download them for free. If you sign up and want to submit any of your pictures you have the opportunity to share in some of the ad revenue. In terms of the number of free images, this site has the least, with only 18,000 images available. There is no registration required, however, if you do decide to register you can get access to other features like emailing options, picture comments and organizational lightboxes.

MorgueFile: This website has over 200,000 images that cover a diverse amount of subjects. It is very user-friendly and you do not have to register in order to download any of the images for free.

Low Cost, Fee-Based Stock Photos

Fotolia: This site has an expansive community of photographers and by paying a small per download or subscription package fee, you have access to over 9 million images and illustrations. You must register, but registration is free. There is a section for free downloads but the selection is limited. Single images are as little as 75 cents.

iStockphoto: This is one of the first sites that allowed for royalty-free stock photo downloads. Membership is free and the files can be downloaded by purchasing pay-as-you-go credits or simply getting a subscription package. The number of credits that an image is given is based on how big the file is, the photographer, and how complex the work is. Packages can range from from $59 for five downloads to a yearly subscription of $199.

Dreamstime: This site offers free and for-purchase images. It has an expansive number of images available, totaling over 9 million. Users simply need to register, which is free, and begin downloading. Price per image can be as little as 20 cents depending on the picture.

iClipart: This library of pictures contains over 7.8 million images and pictures can be purchased individually or as a part of a subscription package. The subscription plans are very flexible. You can sign up for one week of downloading capability for $12.95 or one year for $49.95.

Stock photos are a very important way to relay your message to people. Now, you have access to millions of royalty-free images that are either free or have a very low-cost associated with them.

Andrew Greene is a freelance writer and blogs for where he goes when he needs cash loans.


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