If you want to create really great-looking content, having access to premium stock photos can make a big difference.
But with so many stock content platforms out there, it can be difficult to get an overview of the best option for YOU!
I have, therefore, put together a list of the 5 top stock photo websites for 2020.
I just want to make it clear that this list is premium platforms meaning they provide high quality but they cost money to use – but there are options on the list for any budget.
The list will give you a good overview so you can easily find the right option for your needs.
Disclosure: Some articles on this website contain affiliate links. This means at no cost to you, I may receive an affiliate commission if you purchase something through one of these links.
Why choose premium stock photo sites vs free ones?
You are probably already aware that there are hundreds (if not more) of stock content platforms out there.
There are both free stock photo platforms and paid ones.
Personally, I chose to use premium option (meaning the ones I have to pay for) quite a while ago for several reasons and I just want to go over these here, so you can take that into consideration when finding the best option for you.
Whether you should use free or paid options, of course, depends on your needs.
But if you are making any kind of income from your website or where else you use stock content, it can definitely be worth considering getting access to premium stock photos.
First of all, paid stock photo platforms just have a bigger and better selection. This is one of the main reasons I started to pay for stock content myself.
The free options have a good selection in many cases but it cannot compete with the selection on paid platforms naturally.
Also, I started to notice that many websites are using the exact same images from the free platforms due to the limited selection which means it is more difficult to stand out.
With access to paid stock photos, you can stand out more with images people do not see all over the internet.
After having switched to premium stock photo platforms, I have also realized how much time it save me since it is a lot easier and faster to find the photos you need so this is definitely an added benefit, in my experience.
Secondly, paid platforms are in general just more safe to use.
Most free platforms do what they can to make sure the content there is truly royalty-free. However, they usually cannot guarantee it.
Whereas the paid platforms usually guarantee their content is royalty-free and also have a coverage if there should be any problems.
These are, in my opinion, the two most important reasons to start using paid stock content platforms instead of free ones and that is the reason I have put together a list of some great options for any budget below.
What to consider before choosing a platform?
Before getting to the list of the best paid stock photo websites, I just want to go over a few important things to consider to find the right option for you.
Consideration #1 – Your budget
Obviously, you have to consider your budget.
Some stock content platforms can be quite expensive, but if you have the budget, they can also make your life a lot easier and improve your business a lot.
But if you are still new to running a business and do not have big profits yet, it can put too much pressure on you to get the most expensive solution.
Or at least you should consider only getting a certain number of images and not a subscription.
However, not all premium stock photo platforms are expensive as you will see on the list below so even with a small budget you can get great stock content.
Consideration #2 – Your needs
Most stock content platforms offer several types of membership.
You can, for example, get monthly or yearly subscriptions with a certain number of assets every month. Or you can choose to get credits to just get a few images once in a while.
So before getting a subscription, it can be a good idea to sit down and calculate have many assets you will likely need.
If you need a lot, you can save a lot by getting subscriptions and you can usually save even more by getting a yearly subscription.
But if you do not really need that much stock content, it can quickly be a waste of money to get the subscriptions even though they are a lot cheaper per asset.
So just make sure to do some calculations according to your needs before buying access so you can choose the best option for your needs.
Consideration #3 – What kind of content do you need
Stock platforms often have different types of content.
If you only need stock photos, all the platforms on the list below can give you access to this. But if you also need other types of content, it might not be available on all platforms.
Some have a lot of video clips, music, editorial, images, vectors, and more.
So if you ever need different types of content, make sure to choose a platform that offers the right assets for you.
Consideration #4 – What bonuses do they offer
Some premium stock content platforms offer different bonuses for their members.
Often in the form of access to free tools.
It can, for example, be apps, editing tools, integration with other software, browser extensions, and more.
Some of these tools can make your life a lot easier so they are definitely worth looking into.
So make sure to check what kind of potential bonuses like this each platform offers (the list below includes this info) so you can see if some of them would be very useful to you.
If that is the case, it can be a way to determine the best option for you.
The list below is, obviously, not a complete list of all the premium stock content platforms that exist as there are hundreds and that would just be too overwhelming.
It is instead a list of 5 top options for any budget and needs to help you easily find the right option for YOUR needs.
Option #1 – Shutterstock
Types of content: Photos, vectors, video clips, music tracks, editorial images
Value for money: 4.5 out of 5
More information: Read full Shutterstock review
Shutterstock is one of the most well-known stock content platforms and for good reasons. It has a huge selection of high-quality stock content. You can, for example, find more than 200 million images and more than 10 million video clips.
No matter your needs, you can find great content here. It is not the cheapest option but if you have the budget, it can make a big difference for your business. It offers many types of subscriptions depending on your needs and you can also buy single assets.
In addition to this, Shutterstock has some extra tools you get access to like their app where you can download and edit images, they have their own design application you get access to, you can integrate Shutterstock with PowerPoint, and it has an extension for Chrome that can make it easy to find relevant images as you surf.
So overall, Shutterstock is definitely a platform to consider if you are looking for premium stock photos or other premium stock content.
Option #2 – Depositphotos
Types of content: Photos, vectors, video clips, editorial images
Value for money: 4 out of 5
More information: Read full Depositphotos review
Depositphotos is another stock photo platform with a huge selection of premium images. You can find more than 100 million high-quality stock images here. In addition to this, you can find more than 5 million video clips. This is not quite as much as on Shutterstock but still enough for most needs.
Depositphotos offers support in 22 languages and offers several types of memberships so you can get one that fits your needs whether you need just a few images or several hundred per month. The price range is a bit cheaper than Shutterstock depending on the membership you choose. Also, they sometimes have sales where they offer discounts of image packs.
As a free tool, Depositphotos has an app where you can download and view your stock content at any time.
Option #3 – StockUnlimited
Types of content: Photos, vectors, music and sound effects, fonts, design templates
Value for money: 4 out of 5
More information: Read full StockUnlimited review
StockUnlimted is not a very well-known platform but, in my opinion, it should be. It can be a great alternative to some of the other premium platforms.
It does not offer quite as big a selection as you can, for example, “only” find around 1 million stock images here. However, it also gives access to some types of assets you do not find on many other platforms.
The real advantage of StockUnlimted is, however, its pricing which makes up for the smaller selection. It is one of the absolute cheapest premium stock content platforms, so if you are on a budget but still want premium content, this is definitely a platform worth checking out.
If you have a good income already and have used images for years, StouckUnlimited might, however, not have enough options but as a starter this is a great stock content platform and it is the one I started with myself.
Option #4 – Dreamstime
Types of content: Photos, illustrations, video clips, audio clips, editorial images
Value for money: 3 out of 5
More information: Read full Dreamstime review
Dreamstime has quite a big selection of different assets of high quality. It can be a bit confusing at first – especially because it says it offers a free membership but you can really not use it for anything and it is a bit confusing to sign up (see more about this in the full review through the link above).
But if you decide to get a premium membership, you get access to a lot of assets. You just have to sit down and calculate your exact needs first as the pricing options can be a bit confusing compared to some of the other sites on this list.
One great thing about Dreamstime is the extra tools you get with a membership. You get access to their app, they have a plugin for WordPress, and it has add-ons for Microsoft Office and G Suite.
Option #5 – iStockphoto
Types of content: Photos, vectors, video clips
Value for money: 2.5 out of 5
More information: Read full iStockphoto review
iStockphoto is owned by Getty images and has been around since 2000. It has millions of stock photos and video clips to choose from. If you need any of these assets, you can find high quality here for sure.
However, it does not have as many other options as some of the other platforms on this list and the pricing is a bit confusing and in general, it is a bit more expensive than the platforms at the top of this list.
Of extra tools, iStockphoto offers a few great options depending on your needs. They have what they call Adobe® Creative Cloud® plugin that makes it possible for you to get access to images directly from several of Adobe’s products. You can also link your account to Dropbox.
There you have it – a list of some great premium stock photo platforms if you want to get easy access to great images.
Choosing premium stock content platforms can definitely make your life easier and your business better, in my experience. And you can find options on the list no matter your budget.
I hope this list has made it easy for you to find the right stock photo platform for your needs and for your budget.
If you have any comments, questions, or have any experiences with premium stock platforms you think belongs on the list, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.