Bigstock vs Shutterstock vs iStockphoto: Which Stock Photography Site Is Best?

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BigStock is a good company for beginners due to its relatively low prices and strong support options. Shutterstock is an effective choice for those who want to draw from its huge 50 million strong stock photo library. The iStock site is the way to go if y

There are many situations where you’re going to need some stock photos for either personal or work projects. Here are some stock photo sites including which are the best at what they do.


BigStock features over 24 million stock photos, vectors and videos. They also have good support options. You can call them at 1-855-272-5125.


  • Free Week of Photos -You can click on the blue button for “Start My Free Trial Now” whenever you want to try a week of free photos from Big Stock. It just requires an email address.
  • Live Chat -BigStock has an option for getting help through a live chat option that’s available 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
  • View Site in Dozens of Different Languages -This includes English, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese languages and more.
  • Effective Filter Options -You can search for photos based on subject, category, quality or even the creator who took the picture. You can also filter out adult options if you want as well.
  • Video Tutorials -You can try out one of the many video tutorials on the site if you need help figuring out how to do something with your photos.
  • Save Photos Directly to Google Drive -This gives you some flexibility when it comes to how to store and share photos.


Shutterstock has one of the biggest communities for stock photos around. They add around 400,000 new images on a weekly basis some weeks. You can call them at 1-866-663-3954 if you need help.


  • Over 50 Million Stock Photos and Other Media Available -This is easily one of the widest selections of stock photos on the Internet.
  • Contributor Program -You can actually use the site to make money if you have images or other media to share. According to the site, they’ve paid more than $250 million to contributors.
  • TRUSTe Certification -This certification is seen on the bottom of the page and you can click on it to confirm the current electronic security of the site.
  • Free Lightbox Access -You can share and create as many lightboxes as you want.
  • Business Pricing - If you need a huge number of photos with multiple users, Shutterstock has more options for this. Their “small teams” plan lets you have as many as 10 users with access to up to 35 images per day.


iStock isn’t as large as some of the others, but their library still has 6 million photos in it which is still impressive. You can call them at 1-800-770-7644.


  • Live Chat -At the bottom of the page you can see whether the live chat is available for iStock or not. It’s a convenient way to tell immediately whether this is an option you can take.
  • Non-expiring Credits -Unlike with many other services, the credits you purchase through iStock never expire.
  • iOS App -You can search images and save them right through your mobile phone using the iStock app.
  • Flexible Pricing -You can get cheaper subscription pricing by searching a more limited database.

Head to Head


Big Stock starts at $79 per month for its subscription plan. You get 150 downloads each month, and you start with 35 images for free. This is the 5 downloads per day plan. The 10 downloads per day is $99 per month with 70 free images. The 50 downloads per month plan doesn’t have a daily download limit and it’s also $79 a month. You can also alternatively buy image credits at a rate of 10 credits per $35 or so. You get discounts the more you buy at once. You do have to use the credits within a year though.

Shutterstock starts at $49 for 5 images if you want to buy the image directly. This makes them several times more expensive than BigStock for individual pictures. You can get 350 images per month for $169 per month if you sign up for a year. This is also a few times more expensive than BigStock.

You can buy 6 credits for $60 with iStock if you want to just purchase individual photos. Their “essentials” subscription plan comes out to $166 or so per month for 750 monthly images. This is comparable or even a little cheaper than Big Stock. You only get access to the “Essentials” image library though. It’s $333 or so for the same number of images to get access to all iStock photos.

This means that overall, iStock appears to offer some of the cheapest rates around if the lowest price is what you’re looking for. They also have one of the smallest libraries though, but if 6 million images is enough for you then you’ll be good. The prices are undoubtedly larger with the other sites such as Shutterstock due to their much larger library over 50 million images, so it all depends on what you need.


BigStock has extensive support options including all the major mediums like live chat, phone or email. They’ve also received a favorable rating from eKomi in terms of feedback from customers. Their overall rating is currently around 4.5 out of 5 from over 250 customer reviews. All of this shows that they are likely an easy company to get help from if you have a problem.

Shutterstock is quite a large company and there features reflect this. They have nearly double the image library that Bigstock has, for example. They also have more plans focused directly on Business companies such as their small teams or enterprise subscription options. They also have professional online security features which are more important in business settings than on an individual basis.

iStock has flexible pricing options as one of their standout features. You can get a lower rate on subscriptions than many other services offered by other companies by making it so you can only draw from their “essentials” repository. This flexibility also includes making it so that you’re purchased image credits never expire.

BigStock, for example, makes your images expire after a year. iStock and BigStock are the ones with the most readily available live chat options, so if you prefer this approach for support, these are the sites to pick. iStock also makes it easy to access data on their mobile device.