Resources for Stock Photography


Back in August I wrote an article about adding images to your books or blog posts. Tip #4 was:

Know from where you are getting your images
In the past week, I’ve met with two clients who are not only excellent writers, but also gifted photographers. These lucky folk have the ability to take near-professional photographs to use in their books to offset their information.

I’ve been able to use many of my own photos in my books. But sometimes, you won’t be able to create the perfect setup for the image you need. In that case, you’ll need to purchase your image.

When you purchase it, make sure you are using a reputable stock-photography vendor. And don’t ever use an image from Google Images. Just because you credit your source does not mean that you have permission to use the image!

I realized later (much later! As in THIS week) that I never gave resources for where you could go to get stock photography.

My top (paid) stock photography sites are:


This is a newer website but it is my favorite and the one I use the most. ALL their images are $1 each. All day, every day. I’ve signed up for the annual subscription — it’s WELL worth the money. At time of writing it’s just $99.

Beyond the FANTASTIC price-per-image, they also have a great selection of really high quality images. And they have plenty of selection for illustrations and photos. I haven’t found any images that are amateur-ish either. And since this is a newer site, I haven’t seen their stuff all over the web.


To me, iStock is the “original” stock photography website. I think this way because I’ve been using them since their early days when a search was just as likely to turn up nothing as it was an great image. And, way back in the day, I was able to get a web-quality image for a buck.

Much has changed in the years including pricing. While images aren’t nearly as inexpensive as they were then, iStock’s selection has changed, expanded, and matured. This is where you want to look for an artsy photo.

Lots of high-quality images. Pay-as-you-go credits; good for 1 year after purchase.

Top websites for #StockPhotography for your #blog or #book Click To Tweet


Dreamstime NOW is what iStock was five years ago. You can’t always find the exact image that you’re looking for but they have a nice selection. One thing I’ve discovered is that sometimes I can get the same image HERE as elsewhere but for less cost.

Dreamstime also has a selection of free images. These are perfect when you need SOMETHING but aren’t as particular as to it being the PERFECT image. Because Dreamstime is newer than iStock, I don’t feel they have as many artistic images but they are getting better all the time.

Many images aren’t as artistic but aren’t as expensive. Pay-as-you-go credits.


I’ll be super honest here, of the three, I use BigStock the least of the three. Because I DON’T need images every day, I don’t want a subscription plan. And the credit packs don’t always work for what I want.

That being said, I think BigStock has some images that are just a bit outside the “norm” for the other two and offer a different perspective.

With any stock photography website, you need to keep in mind two things:

Cost and size


Stock images aren’t (usually) free. So when you purchase credits or a download plan, you need to decide how quickly you’ll use it up, does the site have enough images for your style (realistic, artistic, close up, people, nature, abstract, etc.) to make it worth the money.

When you purchase an image, think about all the places you’ll use it (for sure) and the places you might use it in the future. Remember a small image at 72 dpi (dots per inch) is just fine for web or eReader but will be grainy and pixelated for print. The same image at 300 dpi is more expensive AND you need to think about where you’ll use it. An image for a postcard (5 inches) can’t easily be expanded to a billboard.

Size goes back to cost: the larger it is, the more it costs!

And no stock photography website will allow you to “upgrade” an image from a smaller to larger – you have to re-purchase the image and pay again. Speaking from experience, if there is even a prayer of a chance I’ll want it for a printed piece later (like a book cover!) I’ll spring for a larger, more expensive image.

What about free stock photos?
My friend Laura Wallis from JUST put together a great download called “The Ultimate Guide to FREE Stock Photos”

And why mess with that!

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Kim Galloway
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