ShutterStock vs StockSnap vs iStockphoto: Stock Photography Compared
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ShutterStock vs StockSnap vs iStockphoto: Stock Photography Compared

Finding the right photos, videos or illustrations for your creative projects is not always easy. In this report we'll compare 3 of the top stock photography sites online. ShutterStock has more than 55 million photos, illustrations and vectors available for purchase. iStockphoto is now owned by Getty Images, and you can either subscribe or buy photos by using credits as you need to. StockSnap offers free photo under the Creative Commons license that do not require attribution.
Covered in this report
ShutterStock — Best Features
ShutterStock has over 55 million royalty-free stock photos, illustrations and vectors.
ShutterStock has more than 2 million music pieces you can purchase.
Best for: Customers looking for not only photos, but also musical pieces and video clips.
StockSnap — Best Features
StockSnap offers free photos licensed in Creative Commons.
You can use their photos for all of your creative projects, even commercially, without attribution.
Best for: Individuals or businesses that are looking for free photos without having to worry about the attribution or license.
iStockphoto — Best Features
iStockphoto is owned by Getty Images, which means they have all of the Getty photos you can purchase.
They give you the option of subscribing or purchasing photos using credits as you need photos.
Best for: Those that would like to be able to purchase photos using credits with several licensing options.


ShutterStock was founded in 2003 by Jon Oringer and has their headquarters in New York City. They are a stock photography, stock footage and a stock music provider with a library of over 55 million royalty-free stock photos, illustrations and vectors. ShutterStock also has over 2 million video clips and pieces of music that they make available for license. They are the leading provider of digital imagery operating in 20 languages and 150 countries.

ShutterStock Features

ShutterStock is a great place for anyone to look for royalty-free photos, illustrations, videos and music pieces that you can use for any type of project. You can begin your search on ShutterStock by looking through the following main categories:

  • Photos
  • Vectors
  • Editorial
  • Illustrations
  • Icons
  • Footage
  • Music

ShutterStock has many categories for you to search through, making it easy to find the exact product you are looking for. Once you click on a main category, you can further refine your search by New, Popular, Relevant or Undiscovered. A few of their main categories include:

  • Abstract
  • Animals
  • Beauty / Fashion
  • Buildings / Landmarks
  • Business / Finance
  • Food and Drink
  • Infographics
  • Interiors
  • Nature
  • Parks and Outdoors
  • People
  • Vintage

Once you sign up on ShutterStock, you can also receive free content every week and get a free vector of the week download. You will always be able to find what you need on ShutterStock as they add 440,000 stock images per week.

ShutterStock Pricing

ShutterStock offers several pricing plans subscriptions for you to choose from.



Enhanced License


2 Images



5 Images



25 Images



ShutterStock also has a Professional pricing plan for 750 images per month at a cost of $199 per month for a 1-year subscription or $249 per month. And 350 images per month for a price of $169 per month.

Their video clip prices for downloading a single clip are as follows:

  • $19 Web
  • $79 HD
  • $49 SD
  • $299 4k

ShutterStock current music prices are as follows:

Standard License

Enhanced License




For use in a single project and supporting materials for the life of the project

For use in a single project and supporting materials for the life of the project

Web/Podcast Usage: Unlimited

Web/Podcast Usage: Unlimited

Broadcast Usage: Up to 1,000,000 people

Broadcast Usage: Unlimited

Theatrical Film Usage: One Country

Theatrical Film Usage: Unlimited


StockSnap was co-founded by Marc Chouinard and Christopher Gimmer and is located in Canada. They offer free stock photos that are licensed under the Creative Commons license, CCO and do not require attribution. This makes it easy when you are trying to find photos to use for your articles and other creative projects. No more figuring out what type of license and if you can use it or not in your project. They select the best photos from around the web and the photos that are submitted to their web site.

StockSnap Features

On StockSnap, you can find all types of photos for your article and projects without having to worry about if you can use them or any type of attribution. The photographers that submit their photos to StockSnap do get a link back to their web site from the StockSnap web site. You can use their photos without attribution for your own projects and commercially.

All of the photos on StockSnap fall under the Creative Commons CCO license, which means you can copy, distribute and modify any of the photos on their web site, and this includes even for commercial purposes.

Using StockSnap is simple and easy. All you have to do is search for the photo you need for your project and download it. You can search and sort photos by:

  • Date
  • Trending
  • Views
  • Downloads
  • Favorites


iStockphoto was founded in 2000 by Bruce Livingstone originally as a free stock photo website. Since then, the company has been acquired by Getty Images and their stock of photos has grown substantially.

iStockphoto Stock Photos

All of their photos are royalty free, which means you only have to pay once to use the photo multiple times. They give you a legal guarantee that using their royalty free photos will not infringe on any copyright, trademark or any other intellectual property rights or violate any other rights of privacy.

iStockphoto has many stock photo categories to choose from including:

  • Architecture and Buildings
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Babies and Children
  • Beauty and Health
  • Technology
  • Animals and Pets
  • Families
  • Food and Drink
  • Illustrations and Vectors
  • Nature
  • Business
  • People
  • Landscaping
  • Sports

iStockphoto Stock Photo Pricing Plans

iStockphoto has subscription plans or you can buy credits towards photos. iStockphoto offers the following subscription plans.

iStockphoto Essentials:

iStockphoto Essentials allows you to have access to 66% of their photos and illustrations that also include their best-selling collection.

  • 1 month costs $199 and allows 250 downloads
  • 1 year costs $1,999 ($166.58 per month) and allows 750 downloads per month.

iStockphoto Signature:

iStockphoto Signature plan allows customers to choose from 99% of their photos and illustrations, which includes 6.6 million photos unique to them.

  • 1 month costs $399 and allows 250 downloads
  • 1 year costs $3,999 ($333.25 per month) and allows 750 downloads per month.

iStockphoto also allows customers to buy credits and download the images and videos you need using credits. They offer many different credits including:

  • 1 credit for $12.00
  • 3 credits - $33.00
  • 6 credits -  $60.00
  • 12 credits - $115
  • 18 credits - $170

iStockphoto also offers many other credit packages up to 300 credits for $2,400. If customers need larger credit packages, you can call them at 1-800-770-7644. Their photos come with a standard license and if you would like, you can add an extended license.

Their extended license options cost 18 credits per option in addition to the standard credit. The following extended license options are:

  • Multi-seat unlimited
  • Unlimited reproduction / print runs
  • Items for resale (limited run)
  • Electronic items for resale (unlimited run)
  • Extended legal guarantee, up to $250,000

When you join iStockphoto, you will be able to get a free stock file every week. These free files include photos, illustrations, video and audio clips.

Stock Photography Conclusion

StockSnap makes it easy for you to find and use photos for your projects by offering free photos that do not need attribution. ShutterStock has more than 55 million photos for your use with many subscription options. iStockphoto is owned by Getty Images and they offer subscription plans or you can buy photos with credits as you need them.

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