Why You Need Stock Photos

If you run a business or are a marketer, you will need stock photos. Stock photos are used in advertising, blogging, websites, social media advertising, print advertising, and much more.

Small businesses can’t usually dish out large amounts of money for stock photos, but regardless of their price, businesses still need them, unless they do zero marketing. In which case, you need to start marketing, and then you will need stock images.

So basically, if you’re some way involved in the business world, you should use stock images.

I’ve bought images from numerous stock photo companies, trying to find a company that offered both a good value as well as high quality images.  Over the course of two years, I never found the ideal solution, just options that came close.

In June, Adobe released Adobe Stock.  It’s a stock photo service that offers high quality images at affordable prices.  I recently purchased a subscription for our company, and it’s what we’ve been looking for, and I’m tempted to write this post exclusively on Adobe Stock.

However, there was a point, when our marketing efforts were smaller, that we needed less images than we do now.  And there will be a point, as we grow, when we will need more images.  With this in mind, I will give a brief walkthrough of all the stock photo services that I have used, explaining the advantages and disadvantages, to give you a clear idea of the overall picture.


Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a relatively new stock photo company, and since most of their software incorporates images, it makes sense for Adobe to branch into this industry.

My company purchases Adobe Creative Cloud accounts for employees, which include all of Adobe’s cloud software for $50/month. That is a great deal. And if you have a Creative Cloud account, you can get an Adobe Stock subscription for $30 a month.

An Adobe Stock subscription allows companies to license 10 images per month, and every image over 10 is only $3.00. You can’t beat that pricing, especially considering how high quality the photos, illustrations, and vectors are.

If you don’t have a Creative Cloud account, the subscription is still only $50/month, which is only $5 per image. With similar photos costing upwards of $10, $3 or $5 is a deal.

Besides the great pricing, all of the purchased images sync with your Creative Cloud account, so you can access them from Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and other Adobe apps.

Searching for photos in Adobe Stock is simple, and searches bring up relevant images.  You won’t need to spend hours weeding through a bunch of unrelated images.

The only concern I have with Adobe Stock is that it’s image collection is not as extensive as Shutterstock or iStock, since Adobe Stock is a relatively new enterprise. Yet, I don’t think this is much of an issue. With Adobe’s vast resources, they can increase their image collection easily and quickly, and eventually, I would not be surprised if they had the most images.

On their website, Adobe Stock states that they have over 40 million images to choose from. Shutterstock has been in existence since 2003, and they say that they have over 60 million. Twenty million is not a big difference when you consider how many more years Shutterstock has been around.



Shutterstock has a library of high quality images, but the cost is higher than Adobe Stock.  Two images cost $29 and five images cost $49. That’s approximately $10-15 per image, much more than Adobe’s $3-$5.

You can pay for a subscription of 750 images for $199/month.  But it’s very unlikely that a small or medium sized business will need that many images in a month, and if they do, Adobe’s bulk pricing is the same.  If you need less than 700 images each month (which is most of us), then you’re going to pay more when buying from Shutterstock.

In Shutterstock’s favor, they do have a very nice website and easy navigation.  If you’re willing to pay the heftier prices, it will be an enjoyable experience scrolling through their website filled with beautiful photos and illustrations.



Pond5’s images are inexpensive, and you can purchase individual images without a subscription, which is nice for a small business that doesn’t need many images in a month. However, image content quality is low and the selection is limited. You can expect to see some people with corny smiles and poses in Pond5 images. Sometimes, while scrolling through photos, I’ll chuckle. The fake smiles and odd expressions that these stock photo models try to pull off are laughable at times.

Pond5’s website can be difficult to navigate.  It’s cumbersome when trying to access sections of the website from different browsers.  Since searching often produces irrelevant results, it can take a while to find the image you’re looking for.  It’s especially challenging to find the right image with Pond5’s limited image library.

To sum up Pond5, it’s great if you purchase 1-5 images per month for marketing channels that don’t need high image quality, like blog posts and social media. I would not recommend using most of Pond5’s images on your website or advertisements though. If you are just starting to use stock images, and you have a very low budget, Pond5 may be the way to go.


iStock Photos

iStock photos also has very high quality images and a large selection, but they are by far the most expensive of all the companies we’ve looked at.  iStock’s biggest credit pack is $325 for anywhere from 12-36 images.  It’s smallest credit pack is $12 for one image. It has two types of images: essential and signature images.  Signature images cost even more than essential images.

It’s bulk pricing is $199/month for 250 images, which is significantly more costly than Adobe or Shutterstock.

Although prices are high, iStock’s website is well designed and finding the photo you’re looking for is easy.  Istock is the right option for you if you want high quality images and don’t care how much you pay for them.


After using all of these stock photo companies, comparing prices, and comparing ease of use, I can fully recommend Adobe Stock.  It’s the right price and the right images for small and medium-sized businesses.  Plus, it integrates with your Adobe software, and the website is easy to use.

I have a confession.  When it comes to Adobe, I’m biased.  I love what they’re doing right now – Creative Cloud was such a great decision – and Adobe Stock is another rung in Adobe’s ladder to world domination (in a good way). Yet, while I am admittedly biased, the cost, features, and website speak for itself.  Get an Adobe Stock subscription or just search through their images to see what I mean.