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As a website designer or developer, you know you won’t produce a user-friendly product relying on text alone. You’ll need to spice things up will a few high quality images that draws the reader in. One solution is the use of stock photography. For larger projects, you’ll find having access to providers of stock photographs and images is essential.

Fortunately, there are numerous online providers who can meet almost any requirement you have for one or more image types, as most of these providers have a substantial inventory from which you can make a selection.

Prices will vary, but you can usually find what you want within a price range to your liking. You’ll find that purchasing stock images from the sites below will usually get you significant savings, in both time and money.

Perhaps you’ve already selected a merchant or two to do business with, or perhaps you’re still looking. I have a few favorite websites that I routinely visit, some of which I go to when I have an extra special need. If you sign up with several merchants, you will likely find one that you will tend to rely on more heavily than on the others.

stock photos

1. iStock

iStock has been around longer than any other stock photography provider and is certainly one of the more popular merchants in the field. Their product line is huge. Not only is there a large selection of high-quality photos but you will also find an impressive variety of soundtracks, vectors, and videos at your disposal. Most of the items in iStock’s product line are royalty free and are accompanied by the necessary legal provisions.

You don’t have to make a purchase when you sign up. When you do make your first purchase as a new client, and that purchase is more than 30 credits (prepurchased) you’ll get a 20 percent discount on your order. You don’t need to make a purchase when you first sign up of course, but you may wish to look over the iStock inventory and see all of the products that are available on demand when you need them. All you have to do to make sure you get 20% off the normal price is to simply type in the code SUMMER20 at checkout.

2. Alamy

A favorite merchant is usually one you return to time and again for one or more specific reasons. Alamy is a solid number 2 among my favorites and the reason for that is their massive database, which contains over 18 million stock images. What you need in the way of a stock photo or image is more than likely there, and finding does not necessarily need to be difficult.

The website features a search engine that happens to be an extremely user-friendly one, so you’re not apt to get lost in a maze of high quality stock items. In most cases, if you know what you’re looking for, finding it should not be a problem. To get started as a new customer, look for the “For Buyer” button. It’s at the bottom of the home page and if you click on it you’ll be well on your way.

3. Stockfresh

The Stockfresh inventory is smaller than that of some other providers but it is should still be large enough for most purposes. This apparent lack of size is more than compensated for by a product line that features extremely high quality items. Their user-friendly interface makes searching and shopping a pleasure, and the chances are good you will likely find what you are seeking.

You can purchase stock photography and other items in their inventory without needing to register. This is a fun online store to visit and as you browse through the offerings you’ll soon come to the conclusion that as far as the products are concerned, the word mediocre is not to be found in the Stockfresh lexicon.

You may well want to sign up for one of the Stockfresh subscription services. In doing so you’ll be eligible to make purchases during one of this merchant’s periodic discount specials. In some instances you might be able to save up to 50% on the cost of an item that interests you. Another feature you might consider is their affiliate program. You can send visitors to Stockfresh via a link of banner from your website or blog. If a visitor makes a purchase, you get a commission.

4. PhotoSpin, Inc.

Although not the oldest of the stock image sources, PhotoSpin, Inc, is nevertheless a pioneer in many respects. This merchant introduced the stock image subscription concept 15 years ago. Their subscription program has undergone changes over the years, with many of those changes resulting in improvements in the eyes of the customers. Today, a subscriber can download up to 50 image files at any one time. 1,000 downloads are allowed on a monthly basis, making it an attractive option if you work with large numbers of stock images.

PhotoSpin is another company that features an affiliate program. If you join, which is free, you will have access to advertising banners and contextual text messages you can place on your blog or website. When one of your visitors clicks on an ad, he or she will be referred to PhotoSpin’s website. If that person makes a purchase, you will earn a 15 percent commission. This is a very generous commission as most affiliate programs offer much less as to other merchants in the online stock image business sector.

5. Media Bakery

While they have only been in business for approximately 10 years, Media Bakery has managed to put together a collection that contains in excess of 10 million individual stock items. You’ll find not only stock photos, but impressive collections of audio tracks, videos and vectors as well.

2 million of these stock items have been assembled into what Media Bakery refers to as their Microstock Image Collection. This collection contains the merchant’s more affordable offerings with most of the stock items selling in the $1 to $50 range. Navigating through this massive collection is a relatively easy task as Bakery Media has obviously taken some time in developing a search engine that is both sophisticated in its functionality and easy to use. This source of stock materials is among my top five favorites. Shopping is a painless experience and the ease in navigating the website makes browsing a pleasure.

6. Photofolio

Not all merchants in stock photography necessarily treat both their providers and customers equally well although most would seem to do so. This is definitely the case with Photofolio however. Their business model places a great deal of emphasis on taking care of the artists, photographers, and designers who provide the stock items and taking care of their customers as well. The suppliers are generously compensated for the high-quality products they deliver.

Commissions can run as high as 60 percent of the eventual sales price, a figure that appears to be somewhat higher than is the case with most merchants. As a customer, I’ve often come away with a feeling of having been treated with the fairness and respect accorded to this merchant’s suppliers.

7. Snapwire

A good reason for choosing Snapwire as a source for your stock image needs would be if you have a requirement for a very special, or highly-customized photo. Rather than have you searching through a large collection to try to find something that is close to your needs, Snapwire forwards your request to a professional freelance artist who will create an image that exactly meets your specifications. Although you are dealing with a professional, through an intermediary, you are likely to get what you need at far less expense than if you approached a professional directly.

8. Mostphotos

It’s hard not to become overly enthusiastic about Mostphoto’s offerings. It’s kind of like being a kid in a candy store. Website developers, art directors, and graphics designers find much to like when browsing through the 7 million or so stock images. Fresh material is always in the pipeline so you can find something new and different with each visit. The stock images in this vast collection are all sold on a royalty-free basis.

9. Shutterstock

Shutterstock’s impressive business model as well as its inventory of stock photography is what attracts many professional artists and graphics designers. Another factor is redoubtably its global presence. This merchant, with headquarters in New York, has business offices in 150 worldwide locations. Most customers will of course do business with Shutterstock online. Should you choose to do so, you’ll discover than you can do your searches and make your purchases in any of 20 different languages.

10. Corbis Images

Corbis Images has assembled what could be described as a wonderland of stock photographs. Their collection of stock images is fantastic and all of the images are available on a royalty-free basis. That means you can use any image that you purchase for commercial purposes. To make it easier to locate what you’re looking for, the collection is broken down into a number of specialized categories.

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Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos. Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

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