The stock photography wars seem to be heating up. I have seen a number of pricing changes and special offers announced recently.
Kozzi just sent out an email offering new pricing for images on a per-download basis. Now when you buy a pack of credits (minimum order is 10 credits for $10 USD) you can download any image at any size for half a credit… $0.50 per image. That is a spectacular rate for low-volume users who only need an occasional image. For people who use lots of photos, Kozzi retains its subscription plan, allowing 5 photos a day for $15/month.
Meanwhile Depositphotos has been advertising a special limited-time offer through various deal sites. It gives you a voucher credit for 100 images at a one-time price of $99. The best way to find this is to do a search on "Depositphotos 90%" -- I can't find the deal on Depositphotos' own website. The deal usually shows up listed as "90% Off" or "$1000 Worth of Images." Click here to see one site that is currently offering the deal.
And the 800-pound gorilla of stock photography is also making changes. iStockPhoto has a banner on their website announcing major changes coming up on September 13. They will switch to a single price for any file size/resolution on their images. They are also segmenting their stock into two categories… Lower priced "Essentials Collection" and higher priced "Signature Collection." They are raising the price of credits and lowering the number of credits per photo… Now credits will cost between $8 and $15 (depending on number purchased), but each image will cost a consistent one credit in the Essentials Collection or three credits in the Signature Collection. You can see that the pricing is much higher than the previous two sites I mentioned.
Two years ago I wrote up several blog articles covering some of the important factors in using stock photography websites. Click here for the master article with links to the others. The higher priced sites typically offer better search engines to find an appropriate image faster. They also may contain larger libraries with more diversity in human models featured in the photographs. I have heard rumblings on some forums that several low-price sites have stolen the images from other sites and do not give proper payment to the creators of the work. I don't know if that's true and I am not going to run the risk of a defamation suit by calling out any companies by name.
Of course there are always free image sources such as Flickr Creative Commons and morgueFile. These typically require attribution and have more limited libraries and search functionality. Whatever you do, don't rely on copying graphics found with a Google Image search… You'll eventually get yourself in trouble with a copyright holder.