How Much Should You Pay for Stock Photography?

Anyone interested in stock photography will quickly discover that they will need to pay for it. Although some sites do offer free stock photography, it's generally much better to actually pay for the stock photography that you want to use. Knowing exactly how much you should pay will, however, depend on quite a few different things. It depends on the license, where you can use the photo, the format of the photo, and most importantly, the resolution.

There is no right or wrong answer to how much you should pay for stock photography. Quite simply, the fair price will be however much you are prepared to pay.


One of the most important aspects of the photo which affects the price will be the resolution of the photo. The resolution is the number of pixels which are used to make up the photo. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image. Many stock photos are available in multiple resolutions. The price that you pay will normally depend on the resolution of the file that you are downloading. You might not need the highest resolution image available depending on what you intend to do with it. Decide which photo you need so that you don't pay too much money for it.

Average Prices

It's always helpful to know roughly how much you will be expected to pay for your stock photographs. The market is highly competitive which means that prices are largely standardized. Most photos are available for around $5 each, although this will be more expensive for rights managed photos. If purchasing the rights to use a photo for a length of time, then it's likely to pay $20 for the right to use it online for three months.

Some sites also offer monthly subscriptions where you can download a certain number of images each month. This might be useful for web developers who are always in need of good photographs.


If you are looking for some types of stock photography, then you might find that there are lots of them available. However, other subjects might be much harder to find. If there are lots of photos which are similar available, then you can expect the prices to be much lower. You will, however, have to pay more if you are buying a unique photograph.


Before purchasing any stock photos, you must read the fine print. This will tell you about any restrictions and limitations which are placed on where the photo can be used. Free images are normally highly restricted. The more you pay for an image, the more rights you should have. If you are buying the sole rights to use the photo, then this will be much more expensive.


The quality of the photograph will also dictate the price that you are willing to pay. For example, a raw image which hasn't been edited much will normally be much cheaper than one which has undergone a lot of edits. If the image is isolated from the background, for example, then this will normally be more expensive because it will save you a lot of time.

Why Should You Pay?

Many people aren't sure why they should pay for stock photographs when free alternatives are available. The answer is fairly simple. By paying, you are able to find a much more professional photograph in a shorter space of time. The time saving on its own should be enough to justify paying for your stock photos. It's also much safer to use these paid images because they should come with model releases, which will ensure that you won't run into any trouble later on down the line.

By paying for the stock photos, you are also supporting the industry, which should ensure that there are always plenty of stock photographs in the future.