Are We Seeing the End of Paid Stock Photos?

Tech December 7, 2015

Stock photos have been a staple for a broad range of digital mediums. Whether in the design industry, the bloggersphere, or TV, stock photos are used everywhere.

The biggest problem for most when it comes to utilizing stock photos is the price tag associated with them. For some sites, it’s not uncommon to have a photo for sale at fifty, one hundred, or even several hundred dollars.

When you’re a small business running a blog, or even a personal blogger, that type of price is out of the question.

A solution for many individuals on a budget has been to just do a simple Google search and use any old photo that shows up in the results.


The problem with this approach, as some have come to find, is that you can never be sure what the copyright is on a photo you find in the far reaches of the web. There’s always a risk the owner won’t be happy with his or her work being used without permission and even worse, may take action.

Fortunately, a number of new, totally free stock photo websites have been popping up around the interwebs that are totally changing the dynamic of acquiring stock photos.

Offering a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, these sites offer photos that you can do virtually anything with at no cost.

As you might imagine, this has led to an explosion of popularity among designers, bloggers, and a whole host of other individuals who rely so heavily upon stock photos.


The question is: are these sites going to spell the end of paid stock photography as we know it?

Right now, it’s tough to imagine the top photo sites like iStock, the new Adobe Stock, and Getty images to go anywhere soon.

However, as these free stock photo sites continue to spread in popularity, it’s more than likely paid stock photo sites will begin to feel the pinch. Whether or not this leads to lower-priced, more affordable photos remains to be seen.

The good news for the rest of us is, we now have an excellent collection of free alternatives out there we can turn to without having to worry about the dreaded copyright notice or hefty price tag.

I’ve even put together a little growing collection right here on Writely Designed from which you’re able to download photos, anytime.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about paid stock photo websites? Do you think they’re going anywhere soon? Also, do you use any free stock photo sites? If so, which are your favorites? We would love to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “Are We Seeing the End of Paid Stock Photos?

  1. Great article. I don’t think paid stock photo sites are going away any time soon. As a creative director and designer it’s crucial to find just the right photography for my designs and I don’t believe that can always be found on free sites. Photographers should be paid for their expertise as designers and other artists are paid for their work. What I disagree with are sites like Getty Images that skyrocket pricing and make it unaffordable for smaller businesses to use great stock photography. For clients like that I would consider using free sites but only if the quality and content are there.

  2. I know of a professional writer/photographer who posts his copyrighted material on the web. He often will approve non commercial use of his material, but comes down hard on those who steal his work for commercial use. he has a group of loyal readers who will report such violations to him.

  3. Hi Thomas,
    I found your website while searching for copyrights for the picture with the green typewriter, which also appears in this post. I’m planning to use it on my new website. Do you know who has the rights or who to ask before using it?

    Kind regards,

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