8 Places To Find Royalty Free Images (That haven’t been overused)

by 18 02/07/2012

“Hey, I’ve seen that image before.  Actually, I’ve seen it many times before.”

Images allow you to express what words can’t.

They draw the viewer in and elicit an emotional impact, providing your users with information while confirming that what your selling or promoting is real.

There are many affordable options available to purchase stock photography. This may be a blessing or a curse.  Affordability often comes at the cost of originality.

It’s important to consider your ideals and the image’s ability to illustrate a concept perfectly.  But consider originality as well.  You wouldn’t want to fall into the trap of using cliche imagery because it’s easy and convenient.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at 8 places to find royalty-free imagery that haven’t been overused.

What is Royalty-Free Imagery?

It’s not what its name suggests! Royalty-free means that once a license fee is paid, the images may be used many times without paying additional fees, but the initial license is necessary to protect yourself and your clients. After you license these images, you can use them in nearly any application for as long as you want.

1.  Photoxpress

Photoxpress is an “off-the-beaten path” stock photos site with a very easy to use subscription model.  It is very affordable and boasts over 12 million images to search.  Photoxpress is what we use here at The Daily Egg about 90% of the time to source images for our blog posts.  Highly recommended because of the ease-of-use and high quantity of unique imagery.


  • Super easy to use
  • Large, unique collection
  • Royalty-free

2. GettyImages

As a leading creator and distributor of still imagery, footage, music and other premium content, Getty’s goal is to inspire communicators – and give them the tools to create inspiring work of their own. Some of their most popular stock photography collections are trend-researched, art-directed and shot by professional photographers, all in-house. Prices range from $49 to several thousand dollars

Getty Images

Getty’s website allows for easy access of thousands of stock photos. Their advanced search feature allows for easy filtering  and their catalyst feature allows you to brainstorm in the search process.


  • Industry’s broadest collection of imagery
  • Trend-search and art-directed
  • Royalty-free

3. PhotoCase

PhotoCase prides itself in selling really unique photos – no stock photo cliches here. Photocase has become one of the most frequented photo portals in Germany, having gained a reputation as a “go-to” for high-quality, unique, royalty-free photos. Download Credit Packages are 16 download credits for $25, 40 download credits for $50 or 80 download credits for $90. Subscription plans available include 6 credits daily for $99 per month or 16 credits daily for $199 per month.


Photocase allows you to easily buy, sell, and explore the unique collection of photographs offered on this royalty-free image site.


  • Narrow results by keyword or concept
  • Single images start at $12
  • Credit packages available
  • Royalty-free
  • Available for commercial/non-commercial use


Bigstock is an online royalty free, international microstock photography website that sells images via a credit-based system. Bigstock allows you to download over 10 million stock photos and vector art instantly with affordable pay as you go pricing or save up to 67% with credit packs. Prices per credit vary from $1-$2.50 depending on amount purchased. Images are available in four different sizes for use in print and web.


Finding the perfect image is right at your fingertips with this website that allows you to search for a specific image, or browse their inspiration galleries according to your tastes.


  • Pay as you go or credit packs
  • Royalty-free
  • Inspirational galleries

5. Veer

Veer is a site based around unique merchandise, so you can be sure their image collection is just as novel. Images can be found in up to six sizes from $1 to $20, depending on the size of the images. Veer features images in hundreds of categories and also gives users the ability to easily create a lightbox.


Veer provides affordable stock images and fonts to creative professionals in design, advertising, and publishing.


  • Pay as you go or subscription plans
  • Images available in six standard sizes
  • Full Search customization
  • Royalty free

6. Alamy

Alamy offers an astounding 27.41 million unedited images for creative use. Their pictures come from anyone who wants to sell.  This includes a diverse mix of professional photographers, enthusiastic amateurs, stock agencies, news archives, museums and national collections.


Alamy says it still receives subjects like business meetings, tropical beaches, families in autumnal leaves and water droplets because these are clichés for good reason and customers love them, and go on to mention you’ll find them beside vintage postcards and award-winning photojournalism.


  • Huge selection
  • Royalty free
  • Pay as you go
  • Try before you buy


7. Corbis

Corbis features unique and helpful options to search images. Users can filter by date photographed, photographer, orientation, number of people in photograph and more. Also featured are premium collections from famous photographers, such as the Andy Warhol Foundation and Ansel Adams. Most images range from $10 to $600.


With a wide selection of subject categories such as lifestyle, business, travel, sport, medical and wildlife from regions around world, Corbis is sure to have a unique image that is perfect for your project. Corbis images are shot, directed, and managed by experienced professionals.


  • Highly customized search options
  • Premium Collections
  • Royalty free
  • Flexible subscription plans

8. Matton Images

Matton Images is a complete royalty-free resource. Images and illustrations are listed by category and theme. Subscriptions are available for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months from $360-$1,189.

Matton Images

Image are available in all sizes and resolutions to suit your unique project needs. Unique features to the site include a visual search which allows you to identify visual qualities of images you’d like to see more of through a simple keyword search.


  • Flexible subscription plans
  • Royalty free
  • Listed by category/theme

It’s definitely possible to find royalty free imagery that hasn’t been overused.

The trick is to find the right image that speaks to the core values and message of a brand. Identifying these unique characteristics before searching allows you to have a goal in mind in your pursuit if the right image.

Have you found other stock photos sites that aren’t riddled with cliche imagery? Let us know in the comments!


Stephanie Hamilton is a Brand Stylist & Web Designer whose passion is helping creative entrepreneurs, small businesses, and start-ups develop memorable and meaningful brand & digital experiences. Visit By Stephanie and let's collaborate to tell your brand's story. Visit the blog for more helpful design resources.

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Robin Cannon

Nice selection there, and a few I haven’t heard of.

Often find that it can be a little painful to search through some of the larger royalty free sites; Getty’s collection is primarily very generically corporate…which outside of very specific uses can be a little dull. But some of these other collections seem a lot more eclectic.

February 7, 2012 Reply

Alyson Miller

This list is really great Stephanie – several sites I didn’t know existed. Appreciate your putting it together and out there for all to benefit. Two notes: (1) a lot of entrepreneurial companies and small organizations don’t understand that “royalty-free” doesn’t mean cost-free; and (2)for some who need art to flesh out a website or for use in e-letters it would make more sense cost and branding-wise to hire a photographer or graphic designer to get exactly what you need.

February 7, 2012 Reply

Stephanie Hamilton

Hi Alyson,
Thanks for reading! I do agree hiring a photographer makes sense for large scale branding efforts. For those that don’t have the time and resources unique stock photography can be an alternative – which is the premise of the article.

February 7, 2012 Reply


Great resource Stephanie. Besides than the websites above, i normally like to use http://www.123rf.com to purchase stock images fro my creative needs. There is free images section available there while the price is also afforadable and reasonable for the paid images. It’s really a good site for me who don’t have much budget.

February 8, 2012 Reply


Hi Stephanie
Thanks for sharing, these are great indeed. I often tend to use freedigitalphotos.net . They do have a good collection of images & the free ones tend to be with lesser resolution, but works for my needs though.

February 9, 2012 Reply


Great list of site for royalty free images. Thanks for sharing. I did not know there so many sites for getting royalty free images.

December 7, 2012 Reply


I like BIGSTOCK, it’s very simple and high quality

June 30, 2013 Reply


Hi Stephanie,

Great list! We’re currently building a site called searchimages.net that will make it easier to search royalty-free stock images from various source.

The site is still in the process but if you have any suggestion or feature request just tweet us @SearchImagesNET or subscribe to our newsletter so we can notify you once the site is live.

December 18, 2013 Reply


We just started. All creators are welcome. ezmediart.com/

February 12, 2014 Reply


One other option is to hire someone to design an image. For example; thefeaturedimage.com does this. They design a unique blog post image just for you.

June 4, 2014 Reply


    Matthew, thanks for the heads up. Looking forward to hearing more from you :)

    June 4, 2014 Reply


I like stormythoughts.com. very nice collection of images.

November 9, 2014 Reply

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