The Top 15 Stock Photo Websites for Finding Stunning Images in 2024

Stock photos play a crucial role in digital content creation. A good stock image grabs attention, conveys information visually, and makes content more appealing overall.

But with the stock photo industry projected to grow by $5 billion in market value over the next 5 years, the options out there can feel endless and overwhelming.

I‘ve handpicked the top 15 stock photo websites for 2024 based on image variety, affordability, quality, and more – saving you the headache of testing dozens of options!

Surging Demand for Stock Photos

The stock imagery industry has absolutely exploded over the last decade. According to recent projections, revenues are expected to grow at an annualized rate of 8.3% from 2022-2027.

Driving this demand is the ever increasing need for eye-catching visuals across websites, advertisements, blog content, social media channels, and more. After all, content with relevant images gets a staggering 94% more views than content without!

With the stock photo market expected to reach $5 billion dollars by 2027, competition is heating up to create the most diverse, high-quality libraries to meet demand across industries.

Stock photo industry growth statistics

Stock Photo Trends to Watch

Across the industry, a few key trends have emerged:

  • More niche categories – General libraries still dominate, but niche sites focusing on categories like food, nature, or fashion photography are on the rise.

  • Mobile apps and access – With over 50% of traffic being mobile, convenient access via mobile is a must.

  • AI-tagging and search – Automated tagging using AI streamlines curation and makes finding the perfect images faster.

  • Social media integrations – From branded hashtag campaigns to streamlined licensing and attribution, social-friendly perks abound.

Now that we‘ve set the scene for the current state of the ever-changing stock photo landscape, let‘s overview what features set the best stock photography sites apart.

Key Features of Leading Stock Photo Sites

Straightforward Pricing & Licensing

Navigating complex licensing agreements, subscriptions tiers, and hidden fees is frustrating. The most user-friendly stock sites offer clear pricing with bulk discounts and flexible subscription options. Royalty-free licensing with rights to modify and distribute commercially is also crucial.

Robust Filtering & Search Capabilities

With millions of options to comb through, filtering image results by category, color, orientation, date, and more streamlines finding the perfect addition for your project. Bonus points for AI-powered tagging and smart recommendations based on past downloads.

High-Quality Images

Having a selective curation process ensures consistently high-quality contributions instead of accepting any and all imagery. Tightly curated niche sites generally offer the most stunning visuals.

Secure Attribution Integration

Proper creator attribution builds goodwill with the core photographer community critical to fresh daily content. Secure attribution tracking also protects imagery from unauthorized uses.

Keeping those key capabilities that define stock photo greatness in mind, let‘s explore the top contenders across four categories: general imagery, niche-specific, freebies, and video.

Best General Stock Photo Sites

General stock libraries aim to serve a wide range of visual needs with photos covering everyday categories like business, lifestyle, nature and more.

1. Shutterstock

As one of the largest stock imagery services around, Shutterstock should be most users‘ first stop for photos, illustrations, vectors, videos, music, and more.

Image Collection: 380 million+ images and counting across categories like travel, food, business
20K+ images added daily
Shutterstock homepage showcasing images

Search Capabilities: Intuitive smart search tool, custom lightboxes to organize images

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Royalty-free and rights-managed licensing available
  • $29 monthly base subscription (350 downloads)
  • Flexible subscription tiers and on-demand pricing
  • Free trial available

Best For: General corporate imagery needs and power users who need tons of assets

Standout Categories: With over 100K+ business category images alone, Shutterstock is ideal for common use cases like websites, presentations, ads and more. Comprehensive options across other categories too:

  • Business & Finance – 197K+
  • Medical & Healthcare – 223K+
  • Technology – 342K+
  • Nature & Landscapes – 258K

2. Adobe Stock

Integrating directly into Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop makes Adobe Stock a top contender for existing CC subscribers.

Image Collection: Over 320 million including photos, vectors, templates, 3D models. 65K+ weekly additions across categories.

Search Capabilities: AI-powered auto-tagging speeds up searches. Use filters like age, number of people, image orientation, and more.

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Royalty-free licensing options
  • Included in higher tier Adobe CC subscription plans
  • $29.99 monthly base subscription (750 downloads)

Best For: Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers seeking seamless image access

Standout Categories: With 30K+ images related to diversity alone, Adobe Stock excels at inclusive imagery supporting campaigns highlighting people of all ages, ethnicities, identities and abilities.

3. Getty Images

With an archive of over 415 million creative and editorial images, videos and music, Getty is trusted by top brands like Facebook, BBC, CNN and ESPN.

Image Collection: 415+ million real images across categories like entertainment, news, sports and more. 25K daily image additions. Archival content dates back to beginning of photography.

Search Capabilities: Advanced search filters by date range, editorial type, orientation, and more. Image recognition assistance identifying visual matches.

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Rights-managed and royalty-free licensing
  • Custom quotes based on project scope and use case specifics

Best For: Brands and publishers needing high-end, exclusive content for campaigns and editorial use

Standout Categories: With the deepest news, sports, and entertainment libraries out there (200 million+ images) Getty allows brands to tap into culturally relevant moments as they happen. Extensive celebrity, event and breaking news coverage is unparalleled.

To provide even more helpful information and recommendations on picking the perfect stock photo source from these leading contenders, let‘s directly compare the two frontrunners – Shutterstock vs. Getty Images.

Shutterstock vs. Getty Images: Which Stock Site Reigns Supreme?

Deciding between the two stock super giants Shutterstock and Getty can be difficult. Let‘s breakdown the key differences by licensing models, image diversity and quality, and pricing.

Licensing Models

Getty focuses exclusively on rights-managed licensing which restricts broad commercial use without prior permissions. Shutterstock provides more flexible royalty-free licensing models supporting modification and distribution.

Image Quality & Diversity

Both offer very impressive collections covering all the basics like lifestyle, travel, and business. Yet Getty‘s exclusive partnerships and newswire access means more high-quality contemporary coverage of developing news stories.


Getty Images requires custom quotes and licensing specific to your use case, which quickly gets expensive for larger projects. For more budget-friendly predictable pricing, Shutterstock subscriptions can‘t be beat.

Based on these comparisons, Shutterstock edges out Getty with more competitive pricing and licensing options ideal for small businesses and freelance creatives. However "the gold standard" Getty still dominates with exclusive contemporary content. Ultimately consider what‘s most aligns with your brand values between affordability and prestige.

Best Niche-Specific Stock Photo Sites

Along with the heavy hitters serving general imagery needs, niche stock photo sites zone in on more targeted styles and categories like food, nature, fashion, travel and more.

5. Offset – Contemporary, Vibrant Images

Uniquely contemporary, Offset focuses on the ultra hip, colorful photography and illustrations needed to stand out in modern graphic design.

Image Collection: 77K+ curated images and illustrations with lush color palettes. New additions every 2 weeks.

Search Capabilities: Detailed tags make precisely finding the right aesthetic easy. Light and dark mode support.

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Basic: $49 per month for 400 downloads
  • Unlimited: $399 per month for unlimited hi-res downloads

Best For: Designers and creatives seeking bold, contemporary images aligned with current graphic design styles and trends popular on Instagram feeds and websites like Dribbble.

6. Stocksy – Inclusive Lifestyle Photography

Carefully curated, Stocksy features sensual, poignant lifestyle photography with a focus on intimacy, diversity and intentional living values from 1K esteemed photographers.

Image Collection: 2 million+ signature Stocksy-style lifestyle images exuding emotional impact and diversity with weekly new sets.

Search Capabilities: Detailed categories like "Anti-Perfectionists" and "For the Culture" make reflecting inclusive values easy.

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Credits packages (ex. 10 images for $149)
  • Unlimited downloads from $169 per month

Best For: Leaders aiming to authentically represent diversity seeking stylish, emotive lifestyle photography.

Along with standout niche players, don‘t forget the range of free stock photo repositories available. Let‘s explore top options enabling budget-friendly projects.

Best Free Stock Photo Sites

Not all stock sites require payment. Many accept a link back or credit on your website in exchange for gorgeous imagery. Here are our recommended free stock photography picks for elevating visual storytelling.

9. Unsplash

Our go-to source for ultra high-resolution photography thanks to a generous community of over 300K creators.

Image Collection: Over 3 million free, do-whatever-you-want photos with 20K weekly additions

Search Capabilities: Intuitive filters by orientation, collections, and keywords

Licensing: Reuse freely. Attribution appreciated but not required.

Best For: Bloggers, marketers, developers and creators wanting beautiful, contemporary photographic images for both personal and commercial use

10. Pexels

Another favorite free photo site of ours with unique images capturing diversity and visual storytelling potential.

Image Collection: 1M+ curated free stock photos and videos with new options daily

Search Capabilities: Smart search understands requests for specific attributes like "happy diverse coworkers". Featured collections showcase photography continuity around causes like Black Lives Matter.

Licensing: Free with optional attribution

Best For: Creators who value photography supporting social causes and promoting diversity

And it‘s not just photos anymore. Video significantly boosts engagement and conversions. For affordable HD and 4K stock footage, check out Storyblocks and Shutterstock Video.

Best Stock Video Sites

11. Storyblocks Video

Offering unlimited downloads across categories like business, nature B-roll, animated backgrounds, and more, Storyblocks Video simplifies video content creation.

Collection: Over 1.4+ million video clips including After Effects templates and motion graphics

Search: Intelligent clip suggestions based on past downloads

Licensing & Pricing:

  • Unlimited all-access plan from $199 a year

Best For: Unlimited downloads of HD b-roll and background videos to use across projects

Find Your Visual Inspiration

And that wraps our curated list of top stock media services for unlocking powerful imagery across all creative projects in 2024 – fueling everything from website graphics to ad campaigns and beyond!

We covered the giants serving massive general libraries along with the standout niche sites providing very focused, curated collections. Free resources provide budget-friendly imagery, while explorations of emerging video stock footage options demonstrated how the offerings expand beyond just static images.

With intuitive search capabilities, reasonable rates, quality assurance practices, secure creator protections, and niche-specific options – unlocking beautiful, authentic stock photography for infusing visual interest into content should be smoother than ever.

Here‘s to visually engaging experiences made simple in the year ahead. Let stunning photography and cinematography ignite creative sparks on whatever projects await in 2024 and beyond!

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