Why is Shutterstock So Expensive for Single Purchase? Shutterstock Prices Analysed

You read everywhere (here too) that Shutterstock is one of the best stock photo agencies around, with great photos that cost very little money. But when you go there with the intention of buying only a few images paying as you go, the numbers don’t match this description. Here’s where you wonder: why is Shutterstock so expensive?

Well, the truth is Shutterstock has very competitive price points, even for single image purchase. But as this is not the key of their business model, it’s only logical for these not to be their most convenient prices.

Ready to learn more about Shutterstock pricing and maximise your dollars when buying from them? Keep reading!

For more info on this image bank, read our full Shutterstock review. And if you want to save some bucks in your photos, do use our awesome Shutterstock Coupon Code with up to 20% off!

Shutterstock Business Model: It’s All in the Volume

One thing you need to know about Shutterstock to understand their pricing is that their business model is based in volume sales. What they aim is for customers to get lots of images constantly, at very low price per unit, making up for price with the quantity of sales.

This has been their goal from the start, as they are the company which pioneered in 2003 with stock photo subscriptions that work perfectly for that model: they give you lots of image downloads per month, for a very low flat monthly fee. This is still Shutterstock’s star product and the one they enforce and marketise the most, and logically the one offering the lowers per-image rates.

Shutterstock Subscriptions: The Lowest-Price Deal

Shutterstock’s star product was always the high volume subscription: 750 downloads per month at $249 per month, or $199 monthly with annual plan. This works out at just $0,26/$0,33 per image. Insanely low!

Of course this deal only serves those actually needing hundreds of photos all the time. They’d spend a whole lot more buying in traditional stock photo agencies, or even buying on demand in online image banks.

However in our current days Shutterstock has broaden up their offer to include lower volume deals that still work with very low per-image prices:

  • 10 images a month for $49 / or $29 with annual plan
  • 50 images a month for $125 / or $99 with annual plan
  • 350 images a month for $199 / or $169 with annual plan
  • Plus the well-known: 750 images a month for $249 / or $199 with annual plan

So if you need only a few images, but you need them constantly, one of the newer, smaller plans can be a good fit for you, and much less expensive.

Learn all about Shutterstock prices here! 

Shutterstock Single Image Purchase: On Demand Packs Explained

Subscriptions might be their battle horse, but Shutterstock does not neglect his offer for those buyers looking to get images on demand, paying as they go. For them, they have their image packs.

Image packs are prepaid image downloads that you can buy and use whenever you want for one year after purchase date. No periodic fees, no extra charges. Pay now, use whenever (up to one year). There’s two sizes of packs: 5 images for $49 (cost per image is $9,80), or 25 images for $229 (cost per image is $9,16).

Here too they apply their volume deal, and the more images you buy, the less each of them costs. However it’s obvious the rate is much higher than that of subscriptions and the discount over quantity is much less pronounced.

What you need to keep in mind is you’re paying for a number of benefits beside the quality of the photo and the flexibility of the license. With on demand image packs you can:

  • Control exactly how and when to spend money
  • Avoid long-term payment commitments
  • Decide when to use your downloads – very useful if you’re not sure when you’ll need images

Another point to highlight is these prices are still incredibly cheap compared to those of traditional stock photography agencies, Rights Managed licensed photos, and custom photo shoots.

See all Shutterstock Prices and Plans here. 

If you’re looking to buy images by the unit, or having more options for on demand buying, you can check these great alternatives to Shutterstock, or simply read our list of agencies to buy photos on demand!  

But if what you really want is Shutterstock photos, read ahead, we have a little tip for you!

Expert Hack to Buy Few Images in Shutterstock

As we said before, Shutterstock has subscription plans that you can hire both month to month, or annually. And you can cancel them anytime you want.

Since a while, they include low volume plans for 10 or 50 images per month, at only $49 and $125 monthly, respectively.

The hack is kind of evident: if you want to buy just a few photos but don’t want to pay the on demand rates, you can simply hire a low volume subscription for one month, and cancel it whenever you want. This will let you get more images and at a much lower price.

Of course, you need to remember these downloads have an expiration date at the end of the current month of your plan, so you must use them all up before then. If you don’t really know if you’ll use your photos before the end of the month, this little trick may not be so useful to you.

Shutterstock: Not Expensive At All

Now you have a better grasp at how Shutterstock prices work, and specially when you compare their prices to those of their competitors and other alternatives in the market, you can easily see Shutterstock is not as expensive as you might have thought from seeing their image pack prices.

It is in fact one of the best offers in the stock photo market, and one of the main reasons for their success and popularity. If you add that they have over 100 million images to choose from, it only gets better.

Sign up for free at Shutterstock to start downloading great stock photos cheap. And if you really want to maximise your budget, don’t forget to redeem our Shutterstock Coupon Code with up to 20% off in your purchase!

Google Stock Images – Can I Download Images from Google?

I get what you’re thinking, Google is one of the largest search engines and content aggregators on the planet so it would make sense for them to provide a Google Stock Images service, right?

Read on to find out why that’s not the case, why you shouldn’t be using images from Google in your works and find out about some great alternative places to grab all the stock images that you need!

So, Can I Use Google Stock Images In My Work?

As a content aggregator -someone who collects web content from different sources- Google doesn’t actually own the majority of the content you can find through their services.

What this means is that they don’t have the legal rights to the content in order to resell or licence it to anybody else, including you. And using images you find on google without a licence could quite possibly end up getting you into a whole heap of trouble.

Not least could you face potential legal action due to copyright infringements from the original creator, owners of any copyright material within the image itself (such as buildings, locations and more), the models or any company or person that has purchased exclusive rights to use the image in question.

This could leave you paying out fines in the ranges from the hundreds, to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for using the image without permission. On top of this you may also be liable for any potential damages that the legal owners claim for. And of course this will certainly create issues with your current and any potential future clients.

In short, purchase your stock images from a reputable company to ensure that you have a legal license to use the content. It’s better to be safe than sorry! For more details, read our full article on the dangers of using images from Google in your work. 

So Where Can I Get the Stock Images I Need?

The internet is littered with sites offering Stock Images, some of them more reputable than others but below you’ll find our 6 favourite Stock Image Agencies, in no particular order,  with links to their full reviews and special deals!

In short, Shutterstock is one of the well know stock photo agencies in the industry, excelling in the microstock model: they offer Royalty Free images –a collection of 95 million of them!– at very low prices.
Shutterstock pricing plans and licenses, huge library and  the great quality and variety in content is responsible for their popularity and the reason why you can’t search for stock photos without at some point bumping into them.

Check out our in-depth review of Shutterstock here!

And grab your discount coupon codes right here!

2. iStock 

Besides it’s impeccable reputation, iStock has an impressively large selection of stock photos, video, illustrations, vectors and audio files that are highly curated with the highest quality standards, and they add value with a collection of exclusive content. With the amount of experience and largest stock photo library of exclusive images, this stock agency is certainly worth considering if you are looking for royalty-free images that are both affordable and high quality.

Check out our full iStock review over here!

And get your money off coupons right this way!

3. Stock Photo Secrets Shop StockPhotoSecrets-Logo-White

Why not grab some great stock images directly from us? The Stock Photo Secrets Shop comes with a library of nearly 4 MILLION extremely high quality stock photos, vectors and fonts to choose from when you sign up to one of their subscription offers!

First we have our great Monthly Subscriptions, starting at 25 images a month for just $35, and enabling carry on of unused downloads up to three months. Get details on our monthly plans here!

And even more affordable is the fantastic 99Club, offering 200 XXL downloads for only $99! You can read more about 99Club here!

And with this awesome rebate code, you can add an extra 10 images to either subscription!

4. Photocase Photocase

Photocase is an awesome German stock photo agency that’s been in the business for over 15 years specialising  in the kind of imagery that is top trend today: authentic, artistic, “non-stocky” stock photos. This is a place for high end stock photography and unique stock photos you will not find anywhere else.

Check out the full review here, or head this way for 3 FREE Credits and 25% OFF on your first purchase with Photocase.

 5. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock, if you use Adobe Creative Cloud applications, or if you’re looking for images to use in your designs safely, you will likely come across the name more than once.

Adobe Stock comes with various subscriptions and price points that you can read about in detail in our full length review over here!

And while your at it, why not read our article here to find out how to get a whole month free, that’s ten free images!

Starting out in the Ukraine before moving to the United States, Depositphotos is an established stock photo agency that offers a wide and very varied catalog of stock photos, vectors and more, at very cheap prices and convenient buying options.

Read all about DepositPhotos in our full review right this way!

And while your at it, check out our article right here to find how you can get 5 free images and save 15% on your first purchase!

Is There Any Use in Google Images for Stock Photo Search?

In fact, there is. Nothing stops you from going to Google and search for licensable stock photos. And it’s a good way to find stock images from multiple agencies at the same time. Just remember you cannot, CANNOT “right click and save” any of those images to use in your work.

What you can do, however, is use Google image search to find the right licensable stock photo you’re after. Here’s a visual guide on how:

  • Go to Google image search and search for the kind of stock photo you want

  • Select the image you like, and click on the “See” button

  • You’ll land on the stock photo agency page that contains the photo you want, in this case it’s Shutterstock

  • Hit the “Download” or “Buy” button and follow the easy process to register and purchase the image.
  • Done!

 Google Stock Images and Buy From Stock Agencies

So there you have it. Google does not sell stock images, but it is useful to find them for sure. As long as you understand you cannot get any image from Google directly (neither for free nor paying for it), you can use it to search for stock photos.

When it comes to getting the images you want for your work, you must stick to legally safe stock photos, which you can buy at any of the above listed agencies at super low price, and best of all is it will only take you a few minutes to purchase and download any image you choose.

Like this, you will secure images for your designs that are both professional quality and perfectly legal to use.

Did this article help you out? Maybe you have a question, comment or would like to help me add to the list? Drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts!