9 Best iStock Alternatives: Features & Benefits

iStock is a popular platform where you can find multiple pics, videos, and audio tracks grouped in various categories and genres. However, as the developers do not offer flexible package conditions, many users decide to start their search for worthy iStock alternatives. These are mainly websites that work in partnership with cloud storage services and programs for direct content integration.

Top 9 iStock Alternatives

  1. Adobe Stock - Top-class content for free
  2. Shutterstock - A huge library of images
  3. Unsplash - User-friendly & safe
  4. Pixabay - Only for personal usage
  5. Pexel - Distributes high-res photos
  6. Dreamstime - Stunning pics online
  7. 123RF - Royalty-free microstock media
  8. Gratisography - The strangest collection of free pics in the world
  9. Alamy - New content arrives fast

iStock is widely regarded as one of the biggest libraries of photos for sale and purchase. However, by offering such a variety of content, the owners cannot guarantee its uniqueness. So, their images are not exclusive, which is a considerable drawback for many designers.

Most iStock alternatives do not require photography copyright. All of them offer the search and filter by categories, a wide selection of photos and audio files, as well as fast and secure downloads of high-resolution files for commercial and personal use.

1. Adobe Stock

Top-class content for free
  • User-friendly interface
  • Synchronizes files to cloud storage automatically
  • Offers both video and audio
  • Extended search
  • Requires subscription

Verdict: Adobe Stock is a stock image platform that supplies users with more than 90 million images, graphics, videos, templates, as well as 3D, editorial, and Premium assets imported there by the creatives from various parts of the world. First, insert a watermarked image into your design to preview how it looks. After that, you can use Photoshop CC, InDesign CC, Illustrator CC, and other Adobe desktop applications to license, access, and manage stock content using these tools.

Its complete integration with the Creative Cloud is a major advantage of Adobe Stock over iStock. To use the assets offered by Adobe stock, you need to acquire either some package or buy credits. Purchasing a monthly or yearly subscription provides the ability to download pictures, templates, and 3D assets. Furthermore, the platform also offers free assets, but most media is paid.

adobe stock istock alternative interface

2. Shutterstock

A huge library of stock images
  • Rich library of assets
  • Flexible licenses
  • Allows selecting image quality
  • A free trial is available
  • Content contains watermarks in the preview
  • The size of a file defines its cost

Verdict: Shutterstock is one of the best stock photography sites and a great platform for sharing top-class media files, tools, and services. It offers the largest library of stock assets available on the market today, which has over 125 million files.

Besides, like iStock, this platform also distributes both video and audio. No matter whether you are searching for some content for personal use or your team’s project, there is definitely a plan that can satisfy your needs. Unlike its opponent, this alternative to iStock offers multiple creative editing and collaboration capabilities, which is an indisputable advantage. The cost of a pro-level plan starts from $29/month for ten downloads each month.

shutterstock istock alternative interface

3. Unsplash

User-friendly & safe
  • 2 million images are available for free
  • Speedy exporting
  • Support keywords
  • Most images are in a modern style
  • The collection is not so vast
  • Rare updates

Verdict: Unsplash is a user-friendly alternative to iStock, which has stock assets to cover basic design needs or practice your skills. Using the smart selection feature, it is easy to choose photos on a particular theme using the provided keywords.. There are also pre-made categories such as Architecture, Fashion, and even 3D Visualization. A great plus is that the platform offers all assets for free and the files do not contain a photography watermark. The ability to use the content without license and indication of authorship is a real bonus.

Besides, the developers welcome new members to their team and organize various awards for photographers, therefore they have a large community of shooters and editors, which is much bigger than the number of iStock’s contributors.

unsplash istock alternative interface

4. Pixabay

Only for personal usage
  • Offers vector graphics and videos
  • Images of excellent quality
  • User-friendly
  • Speedy download
  • Poor support
  • A bit complicated interface
pixabay istock alternative logo

Verdict: Pixabay is a lively community of creatives who share images and clips for free. Besides, they do not impose copyright on their assets. Its library comprises 2.4 million stock photos, clips, and music. You do not need to have special rights to copy, modify, distribute and perform other manipulations with images found on the Pixabay platform. So, this place is great for finding photography inspiration.

But notice that the company prohibits presenting a real person or brand featured on images in a bad light. A considerable advantage of Pixabay over iStock is that its assets are distributed under Creative Commons CC0, meaning that you are free to use them for any purpose even without applying for permission or praising the artist.

pixabay istock alternative interface

5. Pexel

Distributes high-res photos
  • Great search bar design
  • Straightforward user interface
  • Stock assets at no cost
  • Integrates with Canva
  • Rear updates
  • Content is not unique
pexel istock alternative logo

Verdict: Pexel is a website and app that supplies internet users with thousands of royalty-free stock assets. By the way, Canva, one of the most famous graphic design services, owns this platform. In Pexel’s collection, you will find the highest quality image format and compositionally-sharp media to help creatives implement their original design ideas.

Unlike its competitor, this alternative to iStock is a more optimal solution for those who are just making strides in web design and content creation. The platform offers an extensive collection of photo stills and videos that are absolutely free. Moreover, you are free to use the assets for any purpose without attribution.

pexel istock alternative interface

6. Dreamstime

Stunning pics online
  • Easy-to-use
  • Speedy download
  • Extensive community
  • Premium quality
  • Too few photos if compared to the alternatives
  • Outdated interface
dreamstime istock alternative logo

Verdict: Dreamstime’s collection consists of many public domain and royalty-dree pics that anyone can use without spending a cent. However, in comparison with iStock, its library is actually not so rich. An enormous community of contributors is what lets Dreamstime stand apart from competitive services.

Over 17 million users upload their assets to the platform extending its impressive collection every day. These do not only include editorial images but also illustrations, audio recordings, clips, etc. The pricing policy differs from iStock as well. You can choose a one-week subscription that provides 5 pics for $0.05/per item or opt for a one-year plan and get an opportunity to export 9,125 images for $1.724.

dreamstime istock alternative interface

7. 123RF

Offers royalty-free microstock media
  • Shots of different genres
  • Offers both audio and video assets
  • Excellent search feature
  • Photos of superior quality
  • No trial period
  • Relatively expensive
123rf istock alternative logo

Verdict: 123RF is an outstanding platform that has already supplied a myriad of users and businesses with different types of photography, sounds and motion graphics uploaded by creatives from various corners of the globe. Over 103 million royalty-free pics, vectors, footage, and audio are available there.

An extremely broad range of categories is what allows 123RF to win the competition with iStock. There are several ways to download images: purchasing credits, getting a download pack, or paying for a subscription. With image packs, it is possible to purchase photos for $2.99 – $9 each. By acquiring a monthly subscription, you can export an image for just $0.36 per file.

123rf istock alternative interface

8. Gratisography

The strangest collection of free pics in the world
  • Vectors are available
  • Handy categories
  • Unique graphics
  • Absolutely free
  • Pics are a bit outdated
  • The quality of photos is sometimes disappointing
gratisography istock alternative logo

Verdict: Gratisography is one of the free stock photo sites like iStock, which contains the collection of the strangest stock images available on the web nowadays. However, such weird stock photos taken from strange resources are not for everyone and will be only interesting for some specific categories of users.

All pics and vectors are available for free and can embellish your personal or commercial visual projects. Besides, all assets are easy to customize to suit your content. With the top-quality pictures provided by the platform, you are sure to create personalized designs and beat the competitors.

gratisography istock alternative interface

9. Alamy

New content arrives fast
  • Regular updates
  • Great customer support
  • Huge community
  • 360° panoramic pics
  • Names of categories are sometimes misleading
  • A bit complicated UI
alamy istock alternative logo

Verdict: Just several years ago, Alamy only contained 10 million pictures, but nowadays it offers a collection of 100 million photos, clips, and illustrations with over 80,000 items uploaded daily. I like that every image contains detailed data such as size, resolution, date, and place of a photoshoot.

Here you can discover talented photographers and follow their updates, and shooters in their turn can make money with stock photos. A great plus is that you do not even need to create an account to use Alamy. Whereas iStock service requires registration. The cost of a subscription starts from $19.99, but you can also purchase the pics you like by making a payment only once and enjoy top-quality content.

alamy istock alternative interface