Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy Stock Photos in 2021-2022?

Generic illustrations and photographs, made without any particular theme/intent/project in mind are commonly called stock photos. In this article, I will deep-dive into:

  • How stock photos are a useful tool for creative professionals.
  • What are the various types of stock photos?
  • What are their uses?
  • Stock photos vs. other alternatives (vectors, graphics, royalty free images)

And, of course, I will go on to tell you the best place to get cheap stock photos.

Cheap stock photos are a wonderful little solution to a lot of illustration-related problems, especially if you're a content creator. So, make sure to read till the end to know your options!


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Stock Photos: Overview

Stock photography is an industry—it generates images, as discussed before, that is made without any particular theme/project in mind. These images are then licensed to individual end-users, or companies, who then utilize these “stock images” in their literature. This can range from thought leadership, marketing material, online educational material, to book covers, generic presentations, etc. In short, literally anything.

In principle, it is similar to royalty free music, which can be used by video content creators.

In modern times (the industry traces its origins to the 1920s), the stock photography domain is dominated by entities like stock photo agencies, who produce and then license their images to others.

Some of the biggest players in the market are Shutterstock, iStock, Adobe Stock, etc., with newer players like DepositPhotos (more on them later) catching up.

There are many types of stock photos that are available on various sites that license-free stock photos or paid ones. Refer to the following section for details on some of the most common types.

What are the Different Types of Stock Photos You Can Buy?

#1 Stock photos without Watermark

Stock photos often come with watermarks of the stock photo agencies. This is common for images taken from Shutterstock or Getty Images. However, a number of stock photo agencies like Pexels, stock.xchng, etc., give you access to royalty free images.

stock photo of a person on laptop

While there are sites that provide free stock photos, there are paid ones as well, which range from inexpensive and reasonably priced sites like Depositphotos to more expensive ones like Shutterstock.

#2 Stock photos without a Subscription

Many stock photo agencies like Depositphotos allow you to download high quality stock photos and royalty free images on demand. Of course, the subscription plan is a lot cheaper, but it is a recurring expense, which might not suit your one-time need.

Others like Shutterstock also allow you to download and license images.

#3 Stock photos without Background

Despite the vast stock image pool on the Internet, finding stock photos without backgrounds can be difficult. But if you’re someone who has to spend a lot of time using editing software like Photoshop, you know how helpful transparent background can be to expedite the editing process.

Stock photo sites such as CleanPNG, FavPng, StickPNG, and PNGTree offer stock photos without background for users; some sites even offer free images.

#6 Stock photos to Buy (paid)

The Internet is filled with a plethora of stock photo sites that offer stock photos at a price. Depositphotos is one stock photo agency that offers the best cheap stock photos in the market. It not only has a flexible subscription model starting from $9.99 a month but has also been lauded for its high resolution images and huge collection.

Other sites, such as Shutterstock, iStock, Getty images, etc., offer a large collection of stock and vector images at different price ranges; for example, Shutterstock which offers a subscription package starting at $29 for 10 images and going up as far as $199 for 70 images.

Uses of Stock Images

Can stock photos be used for commercial purposes?

Definitely. Although I am not a legal advisor, you can take my word for it. The very purpose of stock photography is to provide generic images for use by companies and individual creators to further their commercial interests. These include extensive uses in advertising, print, branding, marketing, and other mixed media.

However, there are a few restrictions to this use. Please go through your specific agency/site rules. Restrictions include watermarks, licensing fees, restrictions against removing watermarks from paid images.

stock photo of a meeting

One of the more serious implications behind using these is that they cannot be used to malign any race, ethnicity, or community. If found to do so, the user might be subject to legal consequences.

Can stock photos be used for book covers?

Yes. Publication houses, especially young and up-and-coming ones have always depended on stock photography. When the images are labeled as “Editorial,” they can be used in book covers and illustrations. However, they cannot be used commercially without modifications to said images after you buy images.

Cheap stock photos have enabled many up-and-coming indie authors to self-publish time and again.

stock photo of a dessert

And, the next section gives you everything you need to know about where to find the cheapest stock photo agency.

Where is the Cheapest Place to Buy Stock Photos?Depositphotos

where is the cheapest place to buy stock photos
Image Credit: Depositphotos

All this hassle for a good stock photo site! After all, free resources for affordable ones at least, like cheap stock photos can really make all the difference to your project, be it a blog, a book, a website, or truly anything. Well, I might just have an answer for you, especially if you own a small team, a small business, or are just a creator who is looking for a segue into the world of stock photography usage.

Depositphotos is a stock photo agency that boasts of a collection spanning 224 million files, ranging from photos, videos, and even stock music—making it kind of a one-stop-shop for any small to medium-sized business dealing in creative content. You can be a cover designer or a YouTuber and you will still find some benefit to your business case at this agency.

It is a legally verified, legit agency that offers flexible and customizable pricing options, including the cheapest stock photo subscription that starts off at $9.99 for ten images, as well as on-demand packs for people who aren’t regular users.

It is one of the cheapest stock photo sites and definitely helped me out a lot, especially with one of my niche websites, which often needs a splash of color or an image here or there to lighten things up.

Refer to the FAQ section for some common questions about Depositphotos and their solutions.

Stock photo Alternatives

Stock vs illustration

Stock images are professionally produced images of common items, places, actions, etc. Illustrations are more flexible and creative forms of imagery and can be customized a lot more than stock photos. However, their usage is much more accessible and affordable than using illustrations, highlighting their convenience.

Stock vs vectors

Stock photos are composed of pixels whereas vector images use paths and curves which are determined mathematically. One uses Adobe Illustrator or Sketch to create vectors, while stock photos largely depend on photography.

Besides, vectors are much smaller in size than stock images, making them more stable in terms of resolution or quality.

Stock vs graphics

Graphics fall under the domain of graphic designing, which differs from stock photography in its very purpose and origin—where such photos are created by agencies with or without any particular intent in mind, graphics often come from a client brief, which is a preset group of instructions that the graphic designer must adhere to.

At the same time, while both stock photos and graphics see commercial use, stock photos are almost always more varied in subject, because they do not come from a set purpose or intent on the creator’s part.

Whereas, graphics are quite important tools and often give a visual voice, for the lack of a better phrase, to the client and creator’s vision for storytelling.

Besides, illustrations are often in the domain of things like editorial cartoons, like the famous New Yorker ones, and carry gravitas and a lot of artistic weight. Stock images, on the other hand, are more accessible to new creators and do not carry such weight.

Stock photos and royalty free images

Royalty free images are reusable once they have been downloaded, on the basis of a one-time fee. There is no recurring cost. Whereas, stock photos largely remain license-dependent when it comes to downloading. This means you might incur an extra licensing cost if you want to reuse an image, for any purpose other than the one that drove the purchase.

Depositphotos is one of the cheapest stock photo agencies out there with excellent collections and high quality.


What is the cheapest place to buy photos?

DepositPhotos is one of the best places to buy cheap stock photos. There are over “224 million files on Depositphotos” ranging from “royalty-free images to vectors and illustrations.” Depositphotos gives you affordable options for subscription and licensing, with their signature Flexi option giving you 10 images per month at as low as $9.99.

How much should I pay for stock photos?

Depending on stock photo size and resolution, licensing fees can average between $0.99 to $15.00 per image. However, there are many options all over the market, with cheap stock photo sites like Depositphotos giving you the flexibility of pricing, depending on your individual needs.

Where can I buy good stock photos?

Stock photos are sold by stock photo agencies and sites like Adobe Stock, iStock, Shutterstock, etc. Depositphotos is one of the better options for content creators on a budget as it gives you high quality stock photos along with flexible subscription plans.

Is DepositPhotos safe?

DepositPhotos has generally garnered positive customer feedback, especially considering it’s new as a stock photo site, with numerous websites listing it as one of the best in the market. Most users have noted that at the price range, DepositPhotos provides high quality stock photos, which can help lighten up any blog post or website. It is safe and a great site for affordable high-quality stock photo, video, and music.

How much is DepositPhotos?

DepositPhotos is one stock photo agency that you can count on for cheap stock photos. There are two main kinds of pricing plans:
1. Subscriptions plans (monthly: starting $9.99/month; yearly: starting $99/annually) and
2. On-demand (standard license: starting at 3 images for $42; extended license: one image at $89).

How much should I pay for stock photos?

Depending on your requirements, you can have free stock photos and paid ones. Even among paid ones, stock photo sites like DepositPhotos give you full access to numerous royalty free stock photos and cheap stock photos, as both a subscription plan or on-demand license.
On average, expect a price ranging from $1–15 for stock photos.

Where is the best place to get stock photos?

There are numerous places like Adobe Stock, iStock, and Shutterstock that have been considered to be the best places to get stock photos. But if you’re on a budget and need flexibility in pricing, DepositPhotos offers both high quality stock photos and royalty free stock photos at affordable and flexible pricing, with an offer to customize on-demand (you just have to mail them or ask their customer service).

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