Stock Photo Sites: Where to find the right photo for your project

Written by: Lynn in Graphic Design

When building a website, do you find that your site is missing that one photo that will help complete the overall design, but you just can’t find the right one, worried about the cost or about copyright issues?

As a designer, it can sometimes be difficult to find the perfect photo without breaking the budget or bank on a specific project so I’ve compiled a small list of stock photo websites where you can find what you are looking for and in your price point. These sites range from free to a monthly subscription and can have all sorts of restrictions on how you use the photo.

The cost of each photo also depends on what kind of resolution you require. If you are just using the photo on a website then the resolution only needs to be 72 dpi. If you are using the photo for a print document then you need at least a resolution of 300 dpi.


stock.xchng is a free stock photo website. The selection is not as great as the sites that charge for their photos, but if you are on a tight budget, or just having some fun in Photoshop this is a very useful site. This site requires that you create an account.

All photos are free, but some photos do have restrictions like notifying the photographer that you are using their picture on your website or any print material you are working on. Others have the standard restrictions which basically gives you permission to use their photo for free without having to contact them or give them credit.

Their search is fairly simple compared to the three sites listed below and it can get a bit frustrating when you are searching for “tree” and you get a result of a leaf picture. However, when this does happen I just remind myself that it is a free site.

Getty Images

Getty Images is the most expensive out of the four sites that are

mentioned in this post and requires that you create an account. For royalty-free images, the smallest size (2.60 x 3.89 in. – 72 dpi) costs $5 and the largest size (11.38 x 17.06 in. – 300 dpi) costs $370.

Now, with that said, you can find some amazing photos on this site and if it fits into your budget then there is no reason to worry about the price. You can also find illustration/vector images as well as photography, music and videos.

Getty Images has a lightbox option and this is great if you need to see what a series of photos will look like together and whether or not the composition and colour of each photo works.

Photo Xpress

Photo Xpress, in my opinion, has the most flexibility when it comes to prices. They have a one time fee for each photo or a daily/monthly subscription. All prices on the website are in US dollars and the average price per photo is $10. Although it sounds more expensive than Getty Images, that $10 can get you a pretty large file. An example of this is a photo of a tree. The size is 15″ x 11.3″ @ 300 dpi but only costs you $10. A size this large on other sites like Getty Images or iStockPhoto could cost you from $30 to $300 dollars. The only downside to this pricing is if you are looking for a small image then you are paying more for an image that you could find at istockphoto or Getty Images. This site requires that you create an account to purchase photos.

A neat search feature that some designers will really appreciate is the option to only search for vertical or horizontal pictures. Sometimes a layout that you are working with will only look good with a horizontal photo and this cuts down on the search time since you don’t have to filter through the vertical images and it also saves you from finding a great photo only to realize that it won’t work with your design layout. Photo Xpress also has a lightbox to sort and organize potential photos you want to use together on a project.


Out of the four websites listed, iStockphoto is probably the most recognizable as it does provide a nice selection of photos, video, audio, flash and illustration for reasonable prices. iStockphoto does have a few options for pricing, but not nearly as diverse as PhotoXpress. There is a breakdown of what each photo will cost from an xsmall photo only costing 1 credit (credits range from 95 cents to $1.72 depending on how many you purchase at one time) to an xlarge photo costing 15 credits.  The number of credits also depend on the type of file you are purchasing as an illustration can cost as much as 25 credits. This site requires that you create an account to purchase photos.

The search option allows you to only search for a particular type of file, whether that be audio, photography or vector. iStockphoto also has a lightbox that helps you sort and organize your files and can come in handy when you are selecting photos that require client approval before purchasing.

No related posts.

No Responses to “Stock Photo Sites: Where to find the right photo for your project”