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The Difference Between Royalty-Free Photos and Stock Photos

Read this article and discover the difference between royalty-free photos and stock photos! Find out everything you need to know!

A lot of people today use the phrases stock photos and royalty free photos when talking about photography. However, there is a certain difference between these two terms and it is very important to know and to understand that difference when planning on using a specific photo from the web for a personal or commercial project.

The stock photos are usually priced the same way a custom photograph is. According to our sources, the fee is based on the usage. With stock photos, there are no direct expenses of getting the photograph made. When it comes to the fee, it is based on where the photo will be used and for how long the photo will be used. When you are downloading and using a stock photo you should only use that photo for one use only.

On the other side, the royalty-free photos enable you pay one flat fee and you are allowed to use the photo as much as you like for whatever you like. Usually, there are different expenses depending on the quality and resolution of the photo. A low-resolution photo will generally suit small web site and it will cost less than a high-resolution photo that could be used in both web and print.

Now that you are familiar with the terms royalty free photos and stock photos, we can present you the clear difference:


  • Exclusivity – One of the first difference between stock photos and royalty free photos is that royalty free photos can be bought over and over by random people from all over the world. The image you have selected for the homepage of your web may be the exact same image your competitors have selected for their web site as well. When you download and use a stock photo from a stock photography website, they tell you who else is using the photo.
  • Quality and Price – The stock photos are usually more expensive than the royalty free photos. This is because the photographer is controlling the usage with stock photos and because the photographer can resell that exact same photo a limited number of times. On the other hand, with royalty free photos, the photographer of the photo can resell the photo thousands or millions of times. That is why the royal-free photos are less expensive. When it comes to the quality, if you check the online catalogs of stock websites such as Getty, it is difficult to ignore that the value and quality are higher than low-cost solutions, royalty-free sources such as Shutterstock or iStock. There is no significant difference as Getty began to offer royalty-free options and Shutterstock and iStock work on the quality and value they offer.

If you are interested in using stock photos or royalty free photos it is really important to understand the meaning, the benefits, the difference and the true costs of each type. The royalty free photos are known as the most economical solutions and you can use the photo for anything you want, but there is a possibility of your customers using the exact same photo. The stock photos tend to be expensive and there is an option to pay for exclusive usage. Even if you can’t or don’t pay for exclusive usage, the stock photos are less likely to be seen or noticed repeatedly as the cost is a limitation itself for some clients.


Consider your needs, as well as, your budget and decide which option suits you the 


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