Church imagery has come a long way from notebooks filled with paper “clip art” – now there are tons of electronic resources at our finger tips. We previously shared 5 free stock photography resources, and we definitely love free! The problem with most free resources is the limited selection from which to choose the “right” image. Honestly, another “catch” with free resources is that sometimes we forfeit a bit of quality in search of free. Fortunately, getting quality stock photography does not have to break the bank. After the break, we’ll share some resources for amazing and affordable stock photography.
All of these sites offer a mixture of video, vector, and photographic resources. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, at the time of this writing, we are not in any way affiliated with or sponsored by any of these sites.
- iStock Photo: This is my absolute favorite stock photography resource. I’ve been using them for a very long time. When I first came across iStock, they were an independent service. Now, they are owned by Getty Images. I have to admit was disappointed when I first heard Getty was buying iStock. I was afraid that the “affordable” part was going to get lost. Fortunately, this is not the case. iStock works on a “credit” system. You purchase a bulk of credits (about $1 per credit). When you find an image you like, you exchange credits for the image. Images vary in price, some as low as 1 credit. Note, that Getty also gives you access to more expensive images within your image search just in case you see an image worth exchanging 12 or more credits for.
- Dreamstime: They arrived after the iStock site became so outrageously popular. Dreamstime offers quality resources, at slightly lower prices per credit. They have a popularity based pricing scheme. The more people like the something, the more valuable it becomes, and therefore the cost (in credits) gets higher. I will say this too: the Dreamstime site seems a lot faster that iStock, especially with searches. There is also a huge sense of community at Dreamstime.
- Shutterstock: I am reluctant to include Shutterstock because, unlike the pay-as-you-go model that iStock and Dreamstime uses, Shutterstock is subscription based. In my opinion, unless you are purchasing 75 or more stock resources every month, you’re better off avoiding Shutterstock. Having said that, Shutterstock has an incredibly high-quality inventory.
The 3 sites I mention above are commonly called “microstock” sites because they are a cheaper alternative to professional stock companies. While usually costing 1-3 credits ($1.50-$4.50), the most I’ve seen an image cost at one of these microstock sites is 12 credits, about $12-$15. You might think that is a lot, but a single professional image could cost as much as $300-$600 at professional media sites like Getty Images, or Corbis Images. Bookmark these site. That way, if you can’t find what you need at one of the free resources out there, at least you’ve got some affordable resources to peruse!