Your Guide to Finding Royalty Free Images


Royalty free images grant the user a license which can be acquired for a one-time fee to buy stock photos sold by a stock photography agency.

There are various license types which give the buyer permission to use the image in several ways under a predetermined set of rights. So once you make the one-time payment, you are at liberty to use the image or images as long as you like, though within the predefined guidelines or accepted ways.

It should be noted that “royalty-free” images are not under any circumstances, free. The “free” concept in royalty simply states that you don’t pay royalties to the image owner or stock photography agency each time you use the photo or when it generates a profit for you.

Royalty Free Images: What is Image Licensing?

Before we discuss some of the best ways of acquiring royalty free stock photos, it is important to understand this basic concept: you are merely purchasing rights to using the photo only in a particular way and not buying the photo itself as your own property.

The creator of the photo still has ownership rights. So, just to quickly reiterate, you are purchasing a license to use an image or a set of images in a certain way, under predefined usage terms.

How to Get Royalty Free Images: Top Sources

There are many stock photography agencies that offer royalty free images, however, the microstock industry is where you’ll find top-notch RF images, and they are also easy to buy as well as economical, in terms of licensing fee.

We’ve shortlisted some of the best microstock photography agencies that sell RF images on the internet today:


Shutterstock’s popularity as a stock photography agency has grown massively over the years and today, it offers a vast collection of 88 million RF photos, illustrations and vector graphics. If that weren’t enough, they continue to add more than 800,000 photos on a daily basis. A simple pricing model includes subscriptions for stock photos and image packs that can be purchased on demand.

Adobe Fotolia

Fotolia boasts over 58 million royalty free images pertaining to a range of topics and styles. You can buy on-demand RF images with credits in order to get monthly image packs or get a daily/monthly subscription. If you act fast you can use this promo code to get free credits, which can be used to purchase Fotolia images.

StockPhotoSecrets Shop

This may be one of the best options to buy affordable RF photos. More than 4 million curated images are on offer with flexible subscriptions such as Low Volume and 99club, which are ideal for businesses operating on a small-to-medium scale. In addition, there are superb deals to be had that offer extended licenses and more image packs.


This microstock agency offers a wide array of budget images and has millions of RF photos to choose from which are exclusive to their company’s high-quality stock images. The complex pricing system allows you to purchase on-demand photos through credits or a subscription. Act now and you can avail this promo code to save some money.

Getty Images

Not surprisingly, Getty Images is a highly renowned agency which not only owns iStock but has a superb and highly varied collection of RF images which can be used commercially. Click here if you want to avail a 30% discount.


Download an outstanding variety of vector graphics and images under a RF license. Registration is completely free though you’ll need to add PayPal account details or your credit card number to complete the process. Once your account has been validated, you get a 7-day trial which includes 5 free image downloads each day. All photos are high resolution JPEGs.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock integrates Fotolia’s array of photos into its Creative Cloud to make the design process easy, which also includes stock photos. RF images are sold at flat single-image rates and subscriptions are also available. This stock photo service is really worth exploring and you should check out the free one-month trial.

An Easy Fix

Another easy way to find royalty free images is to simply go to Google and search for your images. Then on top choose ‘Search Options’, and from the ‘Usage Rights’ dropdown menu choose ‘Labeled for Reuse’. Now Google will only show you images that you can use without any issues.

That pretty much covers it. All you need to do is read each respective license agreement carefully and understand what kind of image-use rights you’re buying.

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