Web Design: Stock Photography Monopoly

Judy Vedder Website Design

A photo is worth a thousand words.” 

My original intention was to write a blog post on photography options for your website, but during my research I came to a surprising conclusion – high end stock photography has been monopolized by a single company, Getty Images.

To backtrack a little, I usually recommend that my clients start their image search at the less expensive stock photography websites, such as iStockPhoto, BigStockPhoto and StockXpert.

iStockPhoto is my favorite, but all 3 have a huge selection of photos for very reasonable prices – just a couple of bucks per photo.  They are all credit-based operations, where you purchase photo credits and then use your credits to download images.  Web-quality photos are only 1-3 credits apiece depending upon the image size, and print-quality photos run 6-18 credits each.  Image size and DPI (dots per inch) determine the price.

Occasionally you may not be able to find exactly what you are looking for on these lower-priced websites.  If you have a very specific image in mind, you have several other options to choose from:

  1. Take the photo yourself
  2. Hire a professional photographer
  3. Look at some of the higher priced stock photography websites

The Monopoly

Here is where my article started to fall apart.  I don’t often use these high-end stock photography websites, so it has been a while since I have visited them.  As I started to poke around on the Internet to see which ones are still out there, I kept getting re-directed to the same website over and over again – Juniper Images.

Getty is the parent company of Juniper Images.  Their prices for web quality photos start at $50 apiece unless you purchase a photo CD (prices range from $150 – $850) or a photo subscription (big bucks!)  If you are on a tight budget, the pricing may be difficult to swallow, but it is well worth it if you find just the right image – the one you’ve been searching for.

From what I can see Juniper has gobbled up over 100 of their former competitors and created “Photo Collections” using their competitor’s brand names.  So instead of going to multiple websites looking for your photos, you can just go to Juniper Images and search for your photos in one place.  Usually a monopoly is not a good thing, but as long as the prices don’t get out of hand I guess getting your photos in once place actually makes life a little easier.

Do you have any favorite stock photography websites that are still independent and not listed above?  Please share in the comments below.