Overview of photo stock databases

Do you want to use one of tredition’s cover templates or create your own book cover from scratch? Then you will most likely also be on the lookout for suitable photo material. There are a variety of databases online that have a large selection of photos and images to choose from. Some of the databases you need to pay for, others have a limited amount of free stock photos available (the danger here is that someone else might be using the same photo for his/her own book). Today, we would like to introduce some of the best photo databases to you.

Before we begin, an important note: Every time you use a photo on your book cover or inside your book (no matter whether it is a free download or you paid for it), you need to check the private and commercial usage rights for each individual photo. If there are any doubts, it is better to contact the photo database or the actual copyright owner of the photo. The advantage: Many photo databases work like communities and getting in touch with the photographer should not be a big problem.


  • One of the largest and best known online databases for photos. According to their website, there are over 65 million photos and images you can use.
  • Fotoalia has a user-friendly search function: you can simply search by keywords or apply additional search filters, e.g. search by size, price, color, with or without people.
  • You have to pay for all photos on this website. You don’t have to pay for a subscription though. You can buy individual photos for a one-off cost. You have the following options:
  • Buy credits: this is the most flexible option. You buy a certain amount of credits and can use them to purchase photos. Credits are valid for one year.
  • Monthly pack: If you have an exact number of images you need, then this is a good option. The smallest pack starts with 10 medium or 5 XXL pictures. If you do not use up all images in one month, you will be able to use them the following month. Be aware of the fact that you need to cancel your monthly plan at least 48 hours before the next billing period.
  • Daily subscription: This option won’t be relevant for most authors because it is aimed at people who need a large amount of photos every single day (starting with 25 photos per day).


Getty Images

  • Getty Images is an US-American business with an immense selection of photos and images. According to Wikipedia, there 80 million still images and illustrations and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage (useful if you think of making a book trailer) to be found on this website.
  • Getty Images was the first business to offer licensed images online.
  • The price of images can be shown in a variety of currencies, e.g. British pounds, US Dollars, New Zealand Dollars, Euro, and more.
  • There are royalty-free and RM (rights-managed) photos on this website.
  • If you use RF images, you pay once and can use them as often as you want without any additional costs.
  • If you use RM images, there will be certain restrictions about how you can use them. Often there is also a time limit attached, and sometimes you will only be able to display RM images within certain geographical limits.



  • The Canadian photo stock company iStock has been a 100% subsidiary of Getty Images since 2006 and offers royalty-free photos, illustrations and sketches.
  • Authors who only need one or the other photo would be best off if they bought single credits. iStock offers various packages starting at 1 credit for £7 / $9. The more credits you buy, the lower the price of individual credits will be.



  • Over 770.000 free images to choose from
  • The images you find on Pixabay have the great advantage that you can basically do with them what you want. You don’t even have to attribute them, i.e. you don’t have to give credit to the photographer (though giving credit is just a matter of being polite). You can even change the photos, i.e. edit them to suit your needs.
  • Links to Shutterstock images are also on the site – but those lead to images you need to pay for. These links and donations are how Pixabay finances itself.



  • Over 100 million images to choose from, all photos need to be paid for. According to the website, over 80.000 new files are added each week.
  • Shutterstock has a very user-friendly interface and search function which makes finding the right picture very easy.
  • Shutterstock has a variety of plans to choose from. Most authors will find the basic image packs relevant to their needs. They include either 5 or 25 images. If you need more, you can choose a yearly or monthly professional plan (350 or 750 images per month) or even create a team account if more than one person needs access to the account.
  • Shutterstock also offers music and video footage for an additional cost. This might come in handy if you would at some stage like to create a trailer for your book.
  • Shutterstock was founded in 2003.



  • While Stocksnap can’t show off with 100 million images, it offers a free service to its users.
  • You can use the images from this website for free, you can edit them, and do with them what you want without having to credit the photographer.
  • You can easily search by using the search box. Just write your keyword into the box and you’ll find some images you can use without asking for permission first.
  • A few hundred new images are added every single week.



  • This website is still relatively young and does not offer as many images as other sites, but the photos you can find on Unsplash are of incredibly good quality, and the big plus: they cost you nothing.
  • Only HD photos are uploaded to this website.


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