Design insights & tutorials.

Blank Canvas: Stock Photography

For this installment of Blank Canvas, Go Media Zine would like to get some reader feedback on stock photography. Do you use it? What’s your favorite site? Do you sell your own stock photography?

For the most part, when stock photography comes up for a project, I tend to use iStockPhoto. They have a pretty decent selection of both photography and illustration, and it seems easy enough to find what you are looking for.

That said, I think the primary reason I’ve used iStock is because the prices are low, the quality is decent for what you pay and I’ve just been using them for so long it’s easiest with an account and credits set up already.

I’ve dabbled with some other stock photography sites such as, but that’s about it. To be honest, I’m not too familiar with any other competitors out there.

As far as contributing, I’ve never contributed photography, but I have done so for some illustration work. I’d be curious to hear from any readers who do contribute photography to a stock photo site — let us know what your experience has been as far as exposure, pay/income and what seems to be the most popular.

It seems to me the way to make any decent money is to have a lot of stuff uploaded, since the royalties aren’t that high.

If you don’t use stock photo sites, where do you get your photography from? Shoot your own photos? Hire a photographer? An alternate resource we may not be aware of?


About the Author, George Coghill

George Coghill isa freelance humorous illustrator/cartoonist specializing in mascot cartoon character design & cartoon logos. His cartooning & illustration work can be seen at and at his cartooning and illustration blog. Be sure to follow me on Twitter here!
Discover More by George Coghill


We want to hear what you have to say. Do you agree? Do you have a better way to approach the topic? Let the community know by joining the discussion.

  • PsPrint

    I use Morguefile, and while the photos are nice and high quality, the search function is terrible.

  • Jayson

    I used to use iStock a ton. I also used to to use Shutterstock very often.

  • Will Kesling

    I use Veer, Istock and Morguefile only if I can’t get a budget for photography.

  • Jeff Finley

    we’re big istock users, but I also use Deviant Art a lot

  • OverIthisWire

    When time is tight stock art is a god send! I’ve been using stock.xchng for years but I also use istock when I can’t find anything good on the other.

  • OverIthisWire

    I’ve been using stock.xchng for years but if I can’t find what im looking for on that site I use istock. Both great!

  • Dave

    I use CG Textures, Free site but its only a selection of patterns and textures.
    Tend to agree with you for using iStock

  • Martin Northern

    I use istockphoto also but I always take a quick look at It’s free but you know what they say… you get what you pay for. I’ll be honest it’s not the best site but it can on occasion save a couple of quid, and that must be good right?

  • Mathew

    I use Veer, iStock, Morgue, stock.xchng

  • pairodime

    I use iStock a lot as well – but honestly a great resource is the iPhone. I always find images when I least expect them. I love taking texture photos and shapes, colors, etc! New iPhone 4 has a great camera on it and you can send it directly to your computer, email, photoshop online, etc.

    • OverIthisWire

      Thats awesome you use the iphone for that. I have been testing out my droid x camera and it takes some stunning photos as well! It is awesome that technolgy has come so far!

  • shedpress

    If time doesn’t allow for a photo shoot or original hand illustration, we will use the stock photography/illustration sites. We have monthly thinkstock (formerly liquidlibrary) account at work, but take a look at first just because it’s free. We have also used iStockPhoto as well with good results. They have a good mix of new photography/illustration, opposed to some of the others that have a lot of dated images.

  • Jselig

    I use iStock, Veer (when the budget is there), shutterstock and Dreamstime. I use iStock less and less over Dreamstime because there’s a lot of overlap, and often better photos or the same ones at a higher resolution than on iStock. I also prefer it’s search function and image comps.

    I also shoot some for work and hire a photographer the rest of the time. I use a photographer once every month or two.

  • Whacko

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Corbis. I use Corbis (the company I work for pays) and they have an insane amount of high resolution stock photography covering all kinds of subjects.

    Corbis isn’t cheap but they are one of the best.

    I also use Getty Images, but far less often now that the company I work for has a deal worked out with Corbis.

    • Big Vince

      I used to use corbis, great site, I also used gettyimages, istockphoto, shutterstock and others. In more recent times, licensing has become so strict on most sites that I almost always take my own photo. Another useful site have found is the creative commons section of flickr.

  • RubenB

    If our photographers don’t have it, I head over to IStock.

  • Vectoriadesign

    I am lucky, as I have a very talented photographer as a husband. If the shot isn’t in his archives, or is one he would not be able to get (foreign location) I generally use iStock

  • Jasper wiese

    I use Istock, thinkstock and + my own shots when that works.

  • Oscar Cole

    Depending on the design and the client I use iStock and Morguefile. For textures I use CG textures or SXC. If I am looking at a particular texture its definitely ALWAYS fun to find my own with the 50D. Makes me feel a little more “vested” in the design as well.

  • Lorraine S

    Please designers… ISTOCK (AKA GETTY) IS SCREWING THEIR ARTISTS!!!! January 1st they are cutting commissions to a base of 15% because their “business model is not sustainable” (They make like 1.7 million dollars a week and it’s not enough to keep sustainable?????????) Please shop at Dreamstime who have always treated their artists with respect and they pay one of the best commissions. Please think twice before you support these greedy bastards.