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Stock images

Where to get Stock Images Online

If you are a designer of any kind, whether it be print or web, chances are you’ll need to use stock images at some point in your career. While Google image search may seem like a nice shortcut, it won’t actually get you what you need since those images are not licensed for use or redistribution. Plus, chances are that most of those images are only at 72 dpi, which is the resolution for web use, so don’t event hink about using it for print.

So what is a designer to do? Use a stock image site, either free or paid:

Free Sites:


This site is great for free images. Many of the images are available at a large size which can be used in many formats. It also has tabs for paid sites in case you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for. (The website does suggest you credit the artist/website whenever possible.) MorgeFile also has plenty of design related blog posts to distract you from your work.


Another great resource for free images. This site allows for advanced search options, offers tutorials, and also features a blog with design/photo topics. Stock.Xchng has a wide range of photos available and just like MorgeFile, shows you paid options during your search. This gives you even more opportunities to find just the right photo.

Paid Sites:


This is the go to stock website we use at TVI.  Simply buy credits in bulk, then use them until they’re gone. When buying in bulk, iSock also offers discounts. Just make sure to do a search for “istock coupon” before you buy since there’s usually one available. These credits are good for a year and we usually have no trouble using them up.

If you only need photos once and a while, there is also a pay as you go option. This is a great if you don’t want to sign up for an account and just pay and go. There is also a free file of the week on the lower right side of the homepage. You can click to see the free photo, illustration, audio, video or editorial file offered each week. That’s right iStock has audio and video stock files too.

Getty Images

Getty is another site we use occasionally at TVI. They are partners with iStock and their images are a bit more pricey. The images do seem to be better quality but I’ve seen the same images come up on both sites from time to time. Getty has a great “refine search” nav that appears once you’ve stared your search to really narrow things down to relevant images. Like iStock, Getty also offers stock video and audio to help and the finishing touches to any project.


Shutterstock offers similar pricing plans that vary according to your needs. Whether it’s a pay-as-you-go or subscription they have you covered. Just like the other sites, they offer great ways to narrow down your search so you don’t spend endless hours scrolling through images that have nothing to do with your search. I like the layout of Shuterstock a little better since it seems cleaner and more modern. The pricing seems to be right in the middle between iStock and Getty too.

So whether you’re making invitations for a family barbecue or pumping out tons of design work for a large company, there’s a stock image resource that’s the right fit for you.

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