Free, cheap and surprising

The 3 Stock libraries I used for this site and the magazine

When designing the business magazine as part of Shadow Cabinet I realised I was going to need s significant amount of images to illustrate the articles. I wanted to share my sources with you here.


  1. Free: Stock .XCHNG ( The designers that helped me with the first version had put in some images from this FREE site and I was surprised with the quality of some of the content. When I took over the design I got to know the site better. I liked some of the images there, the easy interface and the community feel. The contributors are involved and I will give them feedback on the images I used. What’s not great is that the site appears unstable and it didn’t load on several occasions. With the Free source sorted I went back to an old favourite that I had used before;
  2. Cheap: Istockphoto ( I really like the search interface. An option I use a lot is search by colour as this enables me to set a consistent mood for the images. The credit system works well, the only disadvantage is that I do tend to spend more than I want as the credits act a bit like ‘monopoly money’. A disadvantage recently is that some of the better images are actually getting expensive now. For higher resolutions you can easily pay 40-50 credits which is serious money for my purpose. This is when I started to look around for an alternative and I landed at the next company;
  3. Surprising: Getty Images, ( I never considered Getty Images because of their pricing. Even the $49,- files would be way over budget for the magazine and certainly unjustifyable for a blog. When they  launched the $5,- files I  went online immediately and purchased 2 images. In fact, as it turns out they were Flickr images. It seems that, at least for me, two of Getty Images’ recent innovations work well together. I’ve use one of the images in this post.

These 3 options give me a nice broad range of imagery that I can use at a very modest budget while still getting some great content for the blog and higher resolution for the magazine. This may change over time and I am planning to showcase collections as well but for now this will serve my purpose just fine.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses