iStock Pricing Change and Stock Image Alternatives

By December 29, 2014 Design No Comments

If you hadn’t already noticed, iStock recently updated its pricing structure for all their stock media: photos, illustrations, movies, and audio.

A pricing change?

As you know, iStock uses credits to purchase stock photography and other stock media. Up until recently  you could purchase credits for about $1.75 each (less if you purchased in bulk). Depending on the size you needed, photos could cost as low as 1 credit and as many as 20 credits.

You can still purchase credits but now the credits are much more expensive at lower resolutions (3 credits for $33 for example) or you can sign up for a subscription (Essential Subscription at 166.58 per month and Signature Subscription at 333.25 per month, for up to 750 images). With that extra cost though, you can download your purchased photos at any available resolution, small (for the web) or up to XX Large for banners. So as an example, a photo that was roughly 640px X 480px would typically cost around 3 credits or about $5. That same photo would now cost around $33 (still 3 credits).

iStock has marketed this as an incentive for buyers as all image resolutions are now included with each purchase under this pricing. Need a small image for a blog? That is now going to cost you roughly ten dollars a pop and you get the small…and the medium…and the large.

So, is this a good or bad move for iStock?

Opinions vary, though there has been a sizable amount of complaint since the iStock update. Basically, if you’ve used iStock for small, low-resolution images for blogs and other web related content then your costs have gone up dramatically. However, if you’re mainly in the market for hi-res images and video, this model would be beneficial, or one of the subscriptions could work for you as well.

What are your stock image alternatives?

There are no shortage of stock photo sites for you to peruse and put to use, though quality and selection vary. You’ll more than likely have to spend some time doing some research and comparing prices. We’ve spent a few minutes looking at alternatives as a place for you to start.

Shutterstock: Your first thought may be ShutterStock, but not so fast. Compare the prices. Subscription models allot you the same number of images a month between the two services, though ShutterStock can actually be more expensive depending on the image quality you’re looking for. For example, one year subscription at ShutterStock runs you 199.00 a month compared to 166.58 for the Essential package at iStock.

Fotolia: Fotolia offers choices in image size and offers both a credit and subscription model. Ten credits will run you roughly ten dollars and net you a number of images dependent on size (example: small images run at three credits each). For those bloggers and others out there that are in the market for a handful of  low-res/small images at a time this may be a good alternative.

Dollar Photo Club: One dollar an image. Hi-res,vectors, and royalty free. Enough said.

Dreamstime: Dreamstime has been around for a while and also uses the credits model, starting out at $15 for 11 credits.

The Wrap

When it comes to paid photo stock services many of us have relied on iStock for our stock photos. With the pricing and service update iStock may have become cost prohibitive for some. When looking for alternatives be sure to compare pricing models and weigh your image needs. Mileage varies with each service. While we’ve given you a few places to start when it comes to paid models, don’t forget there are a number of high quality sources for FREE stock images. Be sure to check out our post “The Search for Free High Quality Stock Images” for free stock image alternatives.