iStock Review: Top 10 Best Stock Photos Review

iStock Overview

Did you know that the ubiquitous American stock photo agency Getty Images also owns iStock, a source of royalty free images that operates on the micropayment business model? Indeed, iStock has been around for more than 15 years, and prides itself on its status of providing copyright free images 'by creatives, for creatives'.

Visit iStock


  • Pricing options include both credit-based pay-per-download and subscription plans
  • Perfect for creatives seeking library of royalty free images by other creatives
  • Image formats - photos, illustrations, video and audio
  • Image categories - wide range of stock photography categories, based around themes like 'couple', 'intimacy', 'perspective', 'medical', 'vintage' and more
  • Standout user value - a site 'by creatives, for creatives'
  • Not the best reputation for customer service, but link to Getty Images should reassure many

iStock calls itself "the web's original resource for crowd sourced royalty-free stock images, media and design elements", having been founded way back in May 2000. The company later became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Getty Images and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Plans & pricing

You have two options at iStock - buy credits with which to gain access to images and video clips or sign up for one of the many subscription plans, arranged at different tiers depending on the intended amount of use.

Pay per download with credits - Purchase credits with which to download images, vectors and video clips – credits do not expire

  • 1 credit for $12 buys you 1 Essentials image
  • 3 credits for $33 buys you 3 Essentials images and 1 Signature image (save 8%)
  • 6 credits for $60 buys you 6 Essentials images, 2 Signature images and 1 Essentials video clip (save 17%)
  • 12 credits for $115 buys you 12 Essentials images, 4 Signature images and 2 Essentials video clips (save 21%)
  • 18 credits for $220 buys you 18 Essentials images, 6 Signature images, 3 Essentials video clips and 1 Signature video clip (save 21%)
  • 24 credits for $220 buys you 24 Essentials images, 8 Signature images, 4 Essentials video clips and 1 Signature video clip (save 24%)
  • 36 credits for $325 buys you 36 Essentials images, 12 Signature images, 6 Essentials video clips and 2 Signature video clips (save 25%)
  • 60 credits for $520 buys you 60 Essentials images, 20 Signature images, 10 Essentials video clips and 3 Signature video clips (save 28%)
  • 150 credits for $1,250  buys you 150 Essentials images, 50 Signature images, 25 Essentials video clips and 8 Signature video clips (save 31%)
  • 300 credits for $2,400 buys you 300 Essentials images, 100 Signature images, 50 Essentials video clips and 16 Signature video clips (save 33%)

Subscription plans - Get the most competitive rates on photos, vectors and illustrations. Video and audio clips not included.

Essentials subscription- Access every Essentials image. Signature images not included.

  • Monthly plan - $199 for 250 images
  • Yearly plan - $166.58/month for 750 images/month

Signature subscription - Access every image on iStock with this premium subscription.

  • Monthly plan - $399 for 250 images
  • Yearly plan - $333.25/month for 750 images/month

Corporate accounts

Large credit packages tailored to the bulk requirements of businesses.

Top 3 pros & cons

✔ Owned by the highly reputable Getty Images

✔ Millions of photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks

✔ Wide range of pricing plans


Two-tiered Essentials/Signature image categorisation may frustrate some

Standard of customer service has been criticised by some users

No option to buy Signature images individually

Customer support

  • Phone, email, fax, mail, FAQs
  • 'Support ticket' help for both customers and contributors


iStock is more than a long-running stock photography site - it's also a very comprehensive one, with a broad range of pricing plans that makes it easier to purchase exactly the royalty free photos that you want. Register now to begun perusing the many (and interesting!) image categories and themes.

Visit iStock


Top 5 Stock Photos Sites