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Photographs can make or break a WordPress website. Using the right image in the right place can help create a cohesive design. However, finding images you can use commercially as a developer is challenging.

This is where stock photography comes in handy. Developers and designers can use these images as placeholders for templates or within client websites. While there are many stock photography websites, choosing a subscription-based platform might be the best solution.

In this article, we’ll discuss the use of stock photographs in WordPress development and the benefits of subscribing to stock photography websites. Then we’ll provide tips for choosing a platform. Let’s get started!

An Introduction to Stock Photography for WordPress Professionals

WordPress developers often use stock photos as placeholders in websites, themes, or templates while waiting for bespoke images. This gives the website design structure and enables clients to picture the final product more clearly.

In other cases, the use of stock images can speed up website development because you do not have to wait for original photographs from the client. While this isn’t always appropriate, it can work for some business sites and online publications.

The use of stock photography is widespread and there are many free stock photography websites. While these platforms have thousands of images available, they can be repetitive and low-quality.

That’s why you might want to consider subscription stock photography websites instead. You’ll have your pick of a wider selection of more professional looking images that you can still legally use on your client sites.

Another benefit of subscription websites is that the images are licensed. This enables you to rest assured that you have the right to use the photos, even commercially. On free websites, you can generally assume that you are allowed to use the images, but there is more risk involved.

Many developers don’t realize they can also save money with subscriptions. Stock photographs are created by professional photographers, but you don’t have to pay for each image. This is helpful if you regularly develop graphics-heavy websites and want to avoid the cost of hiring someone to create custom images.

3 Key Factors to Consider When Subscribing to a Stock Photography Website

Subscribing to a stock photography website might be the right choice for your business. However, not all these websites are created equal. Knowing some key factors to consider before you pay your membership fees can help you find the right website to suit your needs.

1. The Resolution of the Photographs

High-resolution photographs are generally considered to be the best option for any website. These pictures provide a professional edge to your content and make it appear more polished. However, high-resolution images can also slow your site down.

On the other hand, increasing the size of an image after uploading to WordPress can cause pixelation and can negatively impact the presentation of your website. The best option is to choose a subscription that provides multiple image size options:

Image resolution selection.

Image resolution selection.

This lowers the chances that you’ll find yourself in a situation where your image is the wrong size for your website or other project. More expensive plans might include a greater range of resolutions and sizes.

2. How Many Images You Can Download

One of the ways you save money with stock photography subscriptions is by not having to pay per image. However, the number of photos you can download per month may vary significantly depending on the plan and provider.

Before you subscribe, check how many images your plan allows you to download. For context, Adobe Stock plans range from five photos to 750 per month. On the other hand, Shutterstock ranges from 10 to 750 images per month.

When considering download limits, take the time to compare different stock photography websites. This will help you get the best value for your money.

Choosing the right plan is important, too. If you don’t use hundreds of images each month, you’ll want a smaller and more affordable subscription. You may be able to supplement this with credit top-up plans or on-demand packs for months when you need more photos than usual.

3. If You Have Permission to Use the Photos for Client Sites

As a developer, you might be looking for stock photography you can use on live client sites. This can speed up the development process quite a bit. However, it’s always wise to cover your bases and make sure you can use your chosen stock photos for this purpose.

To do so, you need to look at the stock photography website’s terms. The license provided for each picture also needs to be considered.

Standard licenses are the most common for basic plans, but don’t generally permit you to use images commercially. Extended or enhanced licenses are usually required for this:

Image license selection.

Image license selection.

Some subscription stock photography websites include extended licenses in their plans. Others only offer these licenses with their on-demand packs.

Popular Stock Photography Websites to Consider

Shutterstock is one of the biggest and most recognizable names in the stock photo market:

Shutterstock homepage.

Shutterstock homepage.

This site offers some free images each week, but subscribers have access to millions of photographs as well as videos, infographics, and more.

You can start a free trial or choose between Shutterstock’s four plans, which offer up to 750 downloads for $159 per month. These subscriptions all come with standard licenses, but extended licenses are available with on-demand packs.

Adobe Stock is another powerhouse in the stock photography industry:

Adobe Stock homepage.

Adobe Stock homepage.

With Adobe backing the site, this website is a solid and dependable option for any developer. Unlike Shutterstock, Adobe Stock does not have a free trial and provides only three plans to choose from.

The top plan offers 750 images for $199.99 per month. Adobe Stock plans also only come with standard licenses, so you’ll need to buy credits for extended licenses to use images commercially.

Finally, Death to Stock is a newer stock website but has a lot to offer:

Death to Stock homepage.

Death to Stock homepage.

The images are unique and visually stunning. Unlike the other websites listed, Death to Stock offers unlimited downloads with all its plans. As a developer, you can sign up for the Freelancer and Agency plan for $249 per year. This plan allows you to sublicense photos to your clients.

While subscription sites are generally considered better than free alternatives, there are a few budget-friendly options you can consider. For instance, Unsplash and Pixabay offer thousands of high-quality images with clear license agreements.


Stock photography can help you streamline your development process and save money at the same time. Subscription websites often provide the highest quality images and the correct licenses for commercial use. While there are many such platforms on the web, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, and Death to Stock are among the best.

When choosing a stock photography website subscription, remember to consider these three key factors:

  1. The resolution of the photographs.
  2. The number of images you can download.
  3. The usage rights for your clients.

Do you have any questions about subscribing to stock photography websites? Let us know in the comments below!