As a website designer or developer, you have no doubt learned from looking at a few high-quality website or blog designs that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Not only that but superior imagery draws the visitor in, making that visitor apt to stay around for a while. Many and perhaps most of this superior imagery are provided by stock photography merchants.
Most of these online merchants offer stock images of the highest quality. They also tend to carry a very large inventory, which means you can usually find what you want in a price range that fits your budget. Once you sign up you’ll often find your selections to be on special, discounted, and in a few cases, free. When you take the stock photography approach as a part of your design and development projects you will usually save both time and money.
Maybe you’ve just started looking, or perhaps you’ve already found a merchant or two that can provide what you need. I have a few of my own that I regularly visit, including one or two that I go to when I have a special requirement or I am looking to have a custom image created. Having more than one merchant to go to will give you the widest range of products to choose from, but there is often one who will turn out to be your favorite.
iStock is a pioneer in the business of providing stock photography to designers and developers. There have in fact been around longer than any other merchant of this type and are as popular as ever. Their huge product line of the highest quality photos, illustrations, vectors, soundtracks and video gives designers and developers a seemingly unlimited choice, and new products are constantly being added. Most of the items offered are royalty free and legally yours to use as you wish.
It’s easy to sign up and when you do make your first purchase as a new client you be eligible to receive a 20 percent discount on your order if you buy at least 30 prepurchased credits by using the SUMMER20 coupon code. Even if you do not have a need for any of iStock’s products at first, a look through their offerings will give you an excellent idea as to what is available on demand if and when the need arises.
My favorite merchant tends to be one that I visit more than the others. I also quite often visit the merchant who is at the moment my second-favorite, and that happens to be Alamy. The reason for the large number of visits is the large number of choices Alamy has to offer. They have an inventory of over 18 million high-quality stock photos and images. You can find what you want without being overwhelmed with possible choices.
The reason for this is Alamy’s user-friendly search engine that will help you zero in on a stock photograph or image that best meets your needs. As a new customer you might initially find their home page a bit of a problem to navigate, but if you scroll down to the bottom you’ll find a “For Buyer” button. Click on that and you’ll soon find out why this merchant is one of my top favorites.
Compared to several of the other stock photography providers, the Stockfresh product line is not a large one. Not being as large, does not mean inferior, however. The quality of the stock photos and images you’ll find here is uniformly high, and the online shopping experience is a pleasant one. Searching is easy and the odds of your finding what you are looking for are high.
If you’re new to the site and wish to make a purchase you’ll find registration is not a requirement. Browsing through the Stockfresh inventory is a quick and efficient process. You’re unlikely to come across any item you would consider mediocre in terms of quality. The term mediocre simply doesn’t seem to apply here.
Although registration isn’t necessary to make a purchase, you still may want to sign up for one of the subscription plans. In doing so you’ll be in a position to take advantage of the periodic discount specials where you can at times save as much as 50 percent on purchase you make. If you enjoy making money as much as spending it you might consider joining the affiliate program. You’ll be provided with links and banners to place on your website or blog. When you refer one of your visitors to Stockfresh, and that visitor makes a purchase, you get a commission.
A successful business model would seem to be one in which a merchant pays as little as possible to its suppliers and charges as much as possible to its customers. Photofolio’s business model does not subscribe to that line of reasoning. The photographers, artists and designers to contribute to this merchant’s selection are generously compensated for their efforts. This attitude carries over to the way in which customers are treated as well.
Photofolio’s suppliers can expect to receive commissions as high as 60 percent of the sales price for the stock items they provide. This is higher than many other merchants are willing to pay. At the same time, as a customer I have always felt I have been treated with the same fairness and respect as have the suppliers. That is why this merchant is among my favorites, and if you give Photofolio a try it will likely become one of your favorites as well.
PhotoSpin, Inc. is one of the pioneers in the stock image sourcing business although it is not quite the oldest. It was this merchant however who pioneered the stock image subscription concept 15 years ago. Since then the subscription program has undergone changes and improvements. If you take advantage of the program today, you can download up to 50 stock image files at any one time. If you work with a large number of these images, you can download up to 1,000 files in the course of a month.
The PhotoSpin affiliate program is also something you can join at no charge. Affiliates are given contextual text messages and banners to place on their websites or blogs. Visitors who click on these ads are referred to the PhotoSpin site and if they make a purchase, the affiliate earns a commission. You would receive a 15 percent commission on any sale that is made. This is a much higher commission than is typical of affiliate programs in general, and is higher than the commissions offered by most other stock image source affiliate programs.
During their 10 years of doing business, Media Bakery has assembled a massive collection of over 10 million stock items. When browsing through this vast collection you will not only find high-quality stock photographs but other images as well plus audio tracks and videos.
One fifth of this collection has been set aside and placed in what Media Bakery calls their Microstock Image Collection, a collection of the more affordable items. These items are priced from $1 to around $50. I found navigating through this maze of stock items to be a relatively easy task thanks to the merchant’s sophisticated search feature. This ease of navigation, coupled with the painless shopping experience I found in doing business with Media Bakery is why I’ve included it among my top five stock photo sources.
n of stock photographs and images is a wonderland of browsing experience. Not only are the stock images fantastic to look at but they can be purchased as royalty-free items. You can use them for whatever purposes you chose, including commercial purposes. The Corbis Images collection is organized into a number of specialty categories to simplify your search activities.
At first glance, it might seem that Snapwire goes about providing stock images somewhat backwards. Searching is involved, but it is not that of combing through a massive collection to find something close to what you’re looking for. Snapwire does the searching, and that search involves finding a professional artist, a freelancer, who can produce a photo or illustration that exactly conforms to your requirements.
It would seem to be impossible to assemble a collection of over 7 million stock images and expect all of them to be of the highest professional quality. That seems to be an objective of Mostphotos. The art director, website designer, or graphics director could be forgiven for feeling they are on cloud nine when browsing through this 7million-item collection. The quality you will find does indeed seem to be a notch or two above what you may have come to expect in a stock photography collection. In addition to the 7 million options already on hand, fresh new material is constantly being supplied so there is always something to look forward to on future visits.
It is the impressive business model Shutterstock adheres to that, as much as anything, makes it a noteworthy addition to this list. This New York-based merchant has a truly global outreach. In addition to its New York headquarters, there are 150 offices stretched across the globe. This international presence even makes itself felt when you visit their website, which allows you to conduct your searches and transactions in any of 20 languages. A large number of professional artists and graphics designers use Shutterstock as a primary source of material.
This then is my list at the moment. It may change with time, but probably not by much. Regardless of the business model they may follow, each one of the merchants on this list has several things in common: collections of stock images of the highest quality, ease in online searching and navigation, and an emphasis on customer satisfaction. You likely have your own favorites, and if one of them does not appear on this list, I’d like to hear from you.