Stock Images – Purchase or Download Free?

May 28, 2013 | Web Design | 4 comments

You need images for your website but where do you get them? If you become one of my website clients, you’ll have access to millions of images through to use on your site and I’m about to show you what a great value that is.

If you’re creating a website on your own, you’ll need to decide how you will get quality images for your website. I’ll briefly explain your options. But first, let’s look at the average cost of paying for professional stock photos.


Cost of Professional Stock Photos

Professional stock photos may be more expensive than you realize. Images at the lowest resolution usually cost around $10 each on sites like iStockPhoto or ThinkStock. Higher resolution images can cost as much as $30 on average. If you use 10 images on your website, the cost would then be over $100 to get professional stock images. If you have an ongoing need for images, has the best subscription plans. And if you just need a few images for a single project, iStockPhoto has the best pricing for individual pictures.

I know what you’re thinking – “Can’t I just get free images from the internet?”
Stock Photos


Legal Image Use

Regardless of who is building your website, you will be responsible for making sure the images are used legally since you are the owner of the domain. Understanding proper image use on websites is complicated. You can read a good overview HubPages gave to their users. Here are a few points to summarize:

  • You cannot just search images on Google Images or some other site and copy the image for use on your site without permission. Permission means that the image author stated it is free to use or listed the image as Creative Commons.
  • The safest images to use are images you own and have produced yourself.
  • Whenever you use an image that is not your own, even if it’s from a royalty-free or free image site, you need to understand its usage limitations and follow the rules.
  • If you do use an image illegally and are caught, you may just be politely asked to take down the image or you may get a letter in the mail to pay legal settlement or damages (it has happened to me).


Compare Paid Stock Images from to Free Stock Images

To get around these issues and find images to use quickly and legally, I prefer to use stock image sites. Here’s a few FREE stock image sites that offer a decent selection.

  1. Stock.xchng
  2. FreeRange
  3. morgueFile

Get a longer list of free photo sites here.

If you use a lot of images and need them to be high quality, it may be worthwhile to invest in purchasing stock photos. Watch my video above for a brief overview of the difference between some of the free stock photo sites compared to a paid subscription to

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