One of the questions asked the most by the new Shutterstock stock photo marketplace users is: can you actually buy just a one, single image on the Shutterstock website? And if so, how to do it? If you’re just starting out with buying images online, various types of royalty free photography pricing might seem a little bit intimidating!
Worry not however, as I’m here to make things clear, and you can trust me in this regard, as I’ve been a Shutterstock contributor for more than a few years now, and I know the whole microstock business ordeal inside out!
Read on for a quick and precise answer to all your questions!
- Can You Buy a Single Image on Shutterstock?
- Closest Thing – The Image Packs
- The Most Efficient Way – The Basic Subscription
- Is Shutterstock Expensive?
- Are There Any Alternatives?
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Can You Buy a Single Image on Shutterstock?
The quick answer to your question is: no – the minimal number of photos you can purchase on Shutterstock.com is 2, if we take into account the smallest image pack you can get on the Shutterstock website.
This means that the the least number of photos you can buy on the platform in a one-time purchase is two.
Almost all kinds of modern microstock sites selling royalty free images and illustrations have been shifting to a subscription based payment model for quite some time now. This has been the case for almost a decade. This means that their offers tend to shift towards bulk photo purchases, rather than towards promoting single image sales.
While monthly subscription is the most endorsed (and recently most popular) way of purchasing images across many different stock photo distribution platforms, there still exist two other popular methods, the most common ones being credit packs and image packs.
Credit packs essentially allow you to buy a chosen amount of credits which you can purchase your desired images for. The credits are basically the currency you’re able to use on your chosen microstock site to purchase photos, videos and all other different assets that the site offers.
The image packs on the other hand, are the thing you’ll be looking for if you simply want to purchase a single image on the platform without resorting to a monthly subscription or other kind of subscription-based deals. More on that in a short while.
Different image sizes and different license types will have different credit based prices. Remember though, that by design, purchasing your photos or illustrations with credits, or in an image pack, will always be more expensive. You can check out all the available offers with the current Shutterstock pricing here.
Did You Know? – Shutterstock has a neat free trial that you can sign up for right here. It allows you to get up to 10 images, or 2 music tracks, or 1 video completely for free!
Closest Thing – The Image Packs
Image packs are pretty similar to credit packs in a sense, but here you simply pay upfront for a certain amount of images you’ll then be allowed to download. For now on Shuterstock, the smallest image pack you can purchase consists of two images.
As the focus of stock photo agencies slowly but surely shifts towards subscription models, you will naturally notice that the price per one individual image becomes lower when you opt-in for a subscription, rather than purchase your images using credits or image packs. Keep that in mind!
All in all, if you plan to purchase just a one single image on Shutterstock, the basic two image pack is the thing you should take a look at. You can find the offer here, alongside with its current updated price.
The Most Efficient Way – The Basic Subscription
Is a monthly subscription a better option? Well, if you plan to purchase larger amounts of images – yes, largely. Subscriptions are designed for returning customers who tend to buy more than 10 images monthly and want to pay less per one purchased image.
If you’re a blogger, content creator, web designer, or simply an individual who needs to have constant access to one of the biggest stock photo libraries available online, then a Shutterstock subscription is the way to go.
If on the other hand, you only plan to buy a few (typically less than 3-4) images, a simple credit pack / image pack might be a better option for you.
It all really boils down to the number of assets you plan to purchase in one month on average. If you plan to go the subscription way, make sure that you choose a subscription option with an appropriate amount of monthly downloads available. You don’t want to neither run out of downloads, nor pay for more images that you really need to purchase during one month. Find the best option for you here.
Is Shutterstock Expensive?
Well, as I mentioned before, it really depends on which plan you decide to go with. Purchasing lots of images using image packs only, will generally be pretty expensive and can be largely inefficient. In terms of subscriptions though, the larger amount of images in your subscription, the lower the price per a single image will get.
The bottomline is – purchasing images in packs or by using credits is always more expensive than getting them in the subscription model when it comes to the actual PPI (price per one bought/licensed image).
If you think that all the offers available on Shutterstock are unfit for your uses, you might want to check out other microstock sites and their collections and pricing plans. More on that in the next paragraph.
Are There Any Alternatives?
If you want to search for your photos elsewhere, one of the platforms I really do recommend is Dreamstime.com. Their collection is really extensive and they do not fall far behind Shutterstock in terms of its diversity. Their prices are pretty good too!
A great piece of information for you might be that most professional stock photographers have the very same portfolios up on many different stock sites at once. This means that most of the time, the photo collections of the bigger sites won’t really differ by that much. I can confirm that with my own experience!
Take advantage of that and find a microstock platform that’s the best for your needs, both in terms of their library and pricing. Good luck!
You might also like: Is Stock Photography Still Worth It? – An Honest Take