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Back in 90’s, Stock photography was utilized by the newspaper industry, given the fact it was the major source of information most accessible to the masses. In recent times, Stock Photography is still widely used and is used in multimedia industries most especially for prints and web page designs. The purpose of stock photos is to provide multiple ranges of usage for certain pictures, depending on the theme, genre, or the purpose they would serve. Because of this, there are a lot of stock photos to choose from. Furthermore, due to its ability to hold virtually infinite amount of images, the internet is the most popular source for these stock photos.

Before we proceed to the best sites to obtain cheap stock images, you should first understand copyright and other legalities involved with stock photos. As much as there are thousands or even millions of images available in the web, you can be sued by the owner if you recklessly use their images for commercial use (wherein you get monetary gain individually or as a company).

Basically, there are 2 kinds of stock images: Royalty-free and Rights-managed. For the former, you can use the images in virtually any kind of application and as many times as you want as long as you comply with the terms of the license agreement. There is no need to pay additional fees after you paid for those images. As for the latter, your right to use the images is restricted with limitations (e.g. duration of use, or to which kind of industry).

Copyright is a form of protection that the law provides the original artist or authors of their original works. All images and photos are automatically protected by copyright the moment they are created. Copyright infringement includes all, but not limited to, of the following: using the whole or part of an image without permission, using beyond the scope of a license or permission, art rendering without consent, and even asking another photographer to identically recreate the same images. Even if you’ve found an image via Google image search, it doesn’t mean it’s automatically free for commercial use. There is a difference between an image being online and an image being “in the public domain” – the term given to any content not owned or controlled by anyone.

As far as free images are concerned, yes, they do exist! For these images to be “totally free”, the copyright hold must declare these image as free for personal or commercial use. The disadvantages of using free images include lower quality and, of course, when you have a high quality free image, you shouldn’t be surprised if you happen to see other business or other blogs and sites to use the same image.

Creative Commons Licenses allow creators of content to communicate which rights they reserve and which rights they waive so that the recipients and other creators could co-benefit. The creators may require attribution or credit for the use of their images, but if you have the most decent of online etiquette, you will always give credit to the source, creator/owner of the photos or images.

As long as you have an adequate understanding of the legalities involved, then you’re good to go to proceed with some of our listings for cheap stock photos commercial use.

Recommended Sites to get free and cheap photos and images for commercial use:

  • – A straight-to-the-point site and source for a wide variety of free images for commercial use. A quick keyword search on their home site will direct you a page with the corresponding photos of your search. You will see a lot of thumbnails of images and you may get a quick preview of a selected image. Once you’ve decided to get an image for download, there’s a quick guide that will let you choose the version according to resolution and size of the image you want. Then there’s also an easy guide for appropriate crediting. This is one of the more popular of the free cheap stock agencies out there.
  • Morgue File – Is an interesting site for free images that help in contribution for many aspiring and commercial artists. Once you search for an image, you will the preview of the image with a corresponding interface featuring the number of likes, views, downloads, corresponding tags or keywords, and even comments. It is also equipped with the convenience of providing image URLs and social media integration.
  • Every Stock Photo – Is a good site to get free images or photos with the ability to save a collection of those images, provided you have an account and logged in. There’s also an advanced search feature if you want to be specific and if you’re at an office and can’t afford the scrutiny of random obscene images from a non-specific search, there is a safe search filter. Furthermore, they have a lot of sources for images and photos so it’s worth checking the site out.
  • Deviant Art Stock Images Section – DeviantArt has grown a lot as a community for artists and by artists. As such, a lot of artists are able to share their works some of which there are creative common licenses involved. With various genres and media used in photos and illustrations, you can find a lot of interesting images you might want for commercial use. Furthermore, you can also contact the artist if you want a specific piece of original image or photo you can use exclusively. Prices and terms can be negotiated. Because of this, it’s one of the most popular sites you can obtain and ask for affordable stock images.
  • Big Stock Photos – A site with monthly royalty subscription, this is an interesting site where you can cheaply access a lot of photos, images, and even videos, without worrying about legal repercussions if you plan to make use an image for a huge promotion or endorsement for business. Compared to several sites, their subscription fee is considerably cheap.
  • Master File – Another good site to get stock images and photos for a cheap price. It has rates of $10 – $250 per image (based on file size). One really handy feature is that, aside from the regular keyword search, it also has reverse image search – a feature that allows you to upload an image you have on your computer and it will check their database to see if they have the same image you uploaded. This is handy if you have a low resolution image and you want to have a higher resolution image.
  • Fotolia – Is another site that offers cheap stock images with rates as low as $1 for large images, and even less than a buck for the same images of lesser sizes. Surprisingly, the subscription rate is also cheap and they have royalty-free images with worldwide licenses “that don’t expire”. They simply have offers too good to pass on. It’s a site definitely worth checking.
  • Shuttershock – is one of the most popular sites for a lot of stock photos and images. Aside from illustrations, vectors, and photos, they also offer editorial, icons, and even music. It’s a pretty popular site but the downside is the presence of their watermark on every single image and thumbnail. It’s understandable this is to prevent people from just grabbing and downloading the images “illegally”, but it can be pretty much of an eyesore every time you browse around. However, with millions of content available from this site, it’s a great site not to check out.


By Ken

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