iStock Review: Top Stock Photo Pick?

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iContact Review: Stay In Touch With Your CustomersiStock was the first microstock agency and had no real competition for 3 years. It’s been the go-to site to buy and sell stock photos and is a leading competitor today. Owned by Getty Images, iStock is known for its variety of images, unique features and payment options. Read on to learn more about one of our top picks for best digital media stock photos.

Visit iStock’s Website


4 / 5
Customer Service & Reputation 2.5
Variety of Images 5.0
Price 3.5
Easy to Use Site 5.0


  • Third place in our Stock Photo Comparison article
  • Wide variety of stock images and over 8 million are exclusive to iStock
  • Been around since 2000 & One of the most used stock photo sites in the industry, selling a large number of images daily
  • Pay-as-you-go option versus a credit commitment
  • Images, video, audio, illustration and vector files available
  • Well organized website
  • User submissions are accepted
  • DeepMeta for contributors – software to organize your portfolio
  • Credits do not expire
  • All file sizes for the same price


  • Mixed customer support records
  • Review times for submissions can be long
  • Low commission for contributors
  • Other stock image services have a better selection for use with high quality print media

Key Features

When looking for a file to use, iStock allows you to narrow down your search results so you find the perfect picture you’re looking for. You can further narrow your search down by using many categories including keywords, file size, price range, image type, color and photographer or contributor name. After narrowing your search down to a smaller group you can filter your images even more so by best match, age, downloads, contributor, rating, size and title.

Over half of the content available on iStock is completely original.

Ranking System

iStock has an interesting way to rank contributors using specific icons depending on the files they’ve contributed. For example, photographers have film canisters, videographers have television sets, etc. This ranking is based on the total number of sales the contributor has. Each contributor has an icon distinguishing his/her ranking:

  • Base = 1-249 sales
  • Bronze = 250-2,499
  • Silver = 2,500-9,999
  • Gold = 10,000-24,999
  • Diamond = 25,000-200,000
  • Black Diamond = 200,001+

If you have photos to sell, you can become a contributor and receive a 15% royalty for each file downloaded.

Keyword System

Members can suggest additional keywords or the removal of keywords for contributors’ files. This helps keep the users honest and the files are true to their keywords. The integrity of the keyword system is kept high.

Free Image of the Week

iStock features a free image of the week. Users are able to download the free image of the week as well as the previous two week’s free images.

iStock Pricing

iStock has its own form of currency called credits. To purchase an image off iStock you must pay with credits and each file costs a certain amount of credits. This value varies based on the quality and collection. Essential files cost 1 credit while Signature files cost 3. Keep in mind that these credits last one year after the purchase date.

PriceCreditsPrice Per Credit

Another option is to purchase a subscription. If you purchase a lot of images from iStock, you may want to go with a subscription plan. They have two  types of images, essentials which are more basic images only and signature which is access to all images including vectors.

Downloads Per MonthEssentials Price
Per Month (Monthly With Annual Plan)
Signature Price
Per Month (Monthly With Annual Plan)
50$99 ($90)$229 ($199)
100$149 ($129)$299 ($259)
750N/A ($166)N/A ($333)

You can also pay as you go (instead of credits) with your credit card or PayPal account. But keep in mind, iStock customers save over 25% with credits.

iStock Coupon Code

Until December 31, 2018: Save 25% on ANY new subscription with coupon code ISTOCK25; Click here to take advantage of this offer!

What Users Think

Want to know what real users think of iStock? Check out some quotes we’ve gathered from different places.

Positive Reviews

I’ve used many stock image sites over the years to get images for some of my projects. And really like iStockphoto and iStockvideo. I lost the image I’d downloaded months before and they allowed me to download again at no extra charge. Friendly customer support highly trusted and professional people. -Nasima D., Site Jabber 5/9/14

Negative Reviews

I recently went to the site and entered a search term. I got 454 hits. AS I started to review the photos I saw that a SIGNIFICANT number 40 or more + had NOTHING to do with the search term I had entered. When I sent a polite e-mail explaining what was happening I was told that if I wanted to spend my time explaining why each one of the errors was wrong they might consider removing the term-in-error. I sent another e-mail offering to talk to someone on the phone but explained that I did not have the time to correct their error. Basically I got blown off and they pointed out that their customer agreement clearly states that they have no responsibility for the accuracy of the information on their site. Their customer service was significantly better and their prices MUCH MORE REASONABLE before they got bought out by GETTY. -Maurie C. Site Jabber 3/9/14

To Sum It Up

Visit iStock’s Website

If you are looking to buy royalty-free photos via download, iStock is a good company to go with. If there is one area that iStock could improve, it is their communication and customer support. The iStock staff is very particular on what images they allow into their library. This company has been around since the beginning of stock photography and because of that, they have loyal clients and contributors and a well-known brand name. Learn more about iStock in our interview with GM Grant Farhall.

What do you think of iStock?

About The Author:

Kimberly has always enjoyed testing out the latest tech gadgets and loves seeing how things evolve. She’s a fast learner when it comes to the latest fads and likes sharing her findings with others. Although she loves technology, she also enjoys escaping the online world and likes to spend time outside away from the gadgets.

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