MicroStock Fills the Bill When You Need More

When you need more than free images, consider checking some of the Microstocks that offer lower priced royalty-free images for a variety of uses.

Why? Because the image quality offered on most Microstock sites is at a professional level, and the sizes offered include imagery big enough to fill a White plastic piggy bank surrounded by different coins.standard billboard, or small enough to use on a blog, and almost everything in between. ¬†Many offer multiple types of licensing; some offer printable use for magazines or advertising needs, and also offer comp imagery for those who aren’t sure exactly which image will best work for their use.

As well, for those who really are on a tight budget, while some offer blog use images as low as 99 cents or less, there are a variety of Microstock sites that also have a daily, weekly, or monthly free image. In most cases, in order to download their free image you will need an account, but sign-ups are usually free, and you aren’t required to purchase anything to download and use the free image. You do, however, need to ensure that you read, understand and follow their licensing restrictions for the free images. They aren’t that difficult to follow, and a lot of sites have a forum where you can ask if you aren’t sure about your intended use fitting in with the licensing.
There are perhaps less than a dozen very well known and oft-used Microstock sites, but there are many more lesser known sites that also offer excellent quality at reasonable prices. Some sites specialize in particular types of images, or offer imagery based in a specific culture or country, making it easy to find exactly what you need or want.

For those unsure of usage rights or who want additional information about image licensing rights, the website Stockphoto Rights can help explain image usage rights.

Without further adieu … a fairly lengthy list of Microstock sites (in no particular order) to lookup.


Focus is primarily on Indian locations, food, culture and people. For any news outlet, writer or advertising company that deals with India or multicultural issues, this is probably a “must use” site. This is a professional/commercial site with various pricing models, including subscription and individual uses. Licensing includes both exclusive and non-exclusive use rights, as well as editorial and comp. Licensing agreements are available on the site. Note – this is not a “free image” site.


Carries millions of images for a variety uses and has been in the business for almost as long as micro-stock sites have existed. It is one of the longest running sites in this niche and the first Microstock site I joined back when it was still a very young industry. Included in their catalogue are photography, vector images, artwork/drawings/illustrations, professionally designed fractal images, editorial and news images, and video clips, and music, all provided by professional photographers. Licensing is royalty free (not “free”, royalty free means without additional royalties) but doesn’t include rights managed images.

BigStock Photo

Royalty free images at reasonable prices for a multitude of uses and offers a free trial for 7 days or 1 month. Offers subscription based models and depending on the subscription you purchase, images can be as low as 99 cents. With roughly 20 million available images from professional photographers, it’s a useful site for commercial use imagery. BigStock Photo is owned by Shutterstock.


Crestock is perhaps one of the stock sites that not everyone knows about. They’ve been around for almost 10 years, with a smaller offering (around 2 million images), but I’ve also found them to be a little more picky in what they select as saleable imagery. Five years after their debut, they were purchased by Masterfile (something I wasn’t aware of until quite recently). Masterfile offers premium stock photography.

Crestock offers a weekly free use image (you need to register to be able to get those), as well as royalty-free one-time use licensing. Like many other sites of this type, they offer a standard license, as well as some selected extended use licensing. Fees range from $1 to $30 for various sized image use.

Corbis Images

Quiate a variety of images, motion/video clips, entertainment imagery, offers rights managed, royalty free, illustrations and image cds can be found on this long standing stock site. Offers a variety of image types, from documentary, fine art, news/sports and entertainment – a more focused image group than many other sites. Pricing models vary from subscription based fees to rights managed so you’ll need to check the licensing guidelines and pricing against the intended use.


Four kids in sunglasses leaning on boards holding the sign stock search.

Search Engines 

Two search engines designed to specifically search for stock photos.

  1. FotoSearch
  2. EveryStockPhoto

A Longer List of MiroStock Image Sites

*focus on Christian images
**focus on Canadian images
***also offers fonts