Stock photos have become increasingly pricey in the past year, putting undue pressure on the margins of graphic designers and bloggers who need high quality images. But did you know that in almost every case where prices were raised significantly, the photo agency also decreased the artists’ commissions?
That’s right. Stock photo agencies are increasing prices for consumers while decreasing the amount they pay out to the artists which created the images.
It’s time for a change. In this article I am going to lay out 5 excellent sources for stock photos. Each site has reasonable prices. And just as important, each site treats its photographers and artists with the respect they deserve. We need to ensure the artist community stays together and supports one another. If you can buy the same photo at two different sites at virtually the same price, but Site A pays its artists a 50% commission and Site B pays its artists a 15% commission, shouldn’t you support Site A?
With that in mind, here are 5 lesser known, but terrific sources for high quality stock photos at a fair price.
GL Stock Images
Formerly known as GraphicsLeftovers, this tiny stock agency was first known for its excellent vector content. It expanded into stock photography a few years ago, and has more recently added a collection of people images.
As a graphic designer, I appreciate GL’s simple and clean interface. They feature interesting galleries on the front page which will give you great ideas for images to include in your designs.
Prices are very fair, ranging from just $1 for a small jpeg photo to $15 for a very high quality vector. Buyers must make a minimum deposit of $10 into their account at GL. This is similar to the “credit packages” offered by the larger stock agencies, but it is simpler because you are dealing in dollars rather than credits.
Warmpicture Royalty Free Images
In January 2011 I formed Warmpicture with a group of the most talented stock photographers and artists I know. Our goal was to form a 100% artist-run agency, keep prices under control for designers and bloggers, and give each artist 50% of every sale. The bulk of the remaining profit margin is rolled back into the business in advertising, design outsourcing, and so on.
I’m biased of course, but I feel Warmpicture is one of the best places on the internet to download stock photos. We keep our quality exceptionally high to give designers the very best experience. Also, we don’t require the purchase of credit packages. If you only need one photos, you only have to purchase one photo. There is no future obligation, and designers love this freedom.
Warmpicture has an intuitive search function, but if you prefer to browse, there are clearly defined categories and special collections (for instance there are page collections for Back to School images or Halloween photographs). There is also a helpful blog which features design tips, photography tutorials, and blogging articles.
FeaturePics has a slick design which is clean and functional. Not many people know about this agency, but they have many of the best images available at the larger stock agencies, for lower prices. For instance I compared a single image purchase of a very popular football image at FeaturePics to the price at the largest agencies. While most agencies listed the price for a single image at $9 or higher, FeaturePics had it for $5.
They also pay their contributors very well. FeaturePics has long supported its artists with outsized commissions, perhaps at the expense of a larger advertising budget. They are an artist friendly agency which deserves a chance.
Remember Stockxpert? Stockxpert was a popular stock agency in the late 2000’s, until it was sold to Jupiter Images (and then swallowed by Getty). The folks who started Stockxpert are back with StockFresh. StockFresh has been around for nearly two years, but hasn’t found the same success of Stockxpert. That is strange, because the design is superior to the original site, and the image bank is of higher than normal quality.
One thing I really like about StockFresh is that they allow their photographers to tag an entire series of images from the same photo shoot. When you look at a single image from that shoot, you can see the thumbnails of the other session shots. This is great if you love the model and the concept, but you wish she were posed slightly differently.
StockFresh offers vectors as well as photos royalty-free. Prices are quite fair, but unfortunately designers must commit to a credit package much as they do at the large stock agencies. They support their artists by sharing 50% of the commission price with them.
CanStockPhoto has been around for several years, but has never quite broken the glass ceiling of success among the giant stock agencies. Designers would do well to give them a look. The image library boasts 7 million stock photos online, and many of the top stock artists have their portfolios here.
Like the previous choices I outlined, CanStockPhoto has a simple, quality interface and fast server speed. Keyword Search is intuitive and functional, and there are over 80 categories if you prefer to browse.
Buyers can purchase credit packages, but if you need just one download, CanStockPhoto obliges with single image instant downloads. Prices are considerably less than those at the leading stock agency, and they share a fair commission with their artists. Subscription prices start from only $39 for bulk image buyers.
As designers and bloggers, we purchase stock photos regularly. With prices escalating at the major agencies, we need only to do some searching to find the same images we require at lower prices. As fellow artists, we can support our friends and artist community by doing business with websites which give artists a fair share of the profit on sales. Did your stock agency raise your prices again? Maybe it is time for a change.
Daniel Padavona is a featured photographer for several stock photo agencies, including Warmpicture. He has been fighting for artists rights for many years. Daniel lives with his wife Terri, and their two children in Upstate New York.