iStockphoto is an excellent stock photo site where members generate the content, which includes photography, illustrations, video and flash files. Low resolution images for the web cost just over $1, and high-res files for print are only $6 to $20, significantly less than many stock sites.
What makes iStock unique is that their members, known as contributors, submit the entire collection of stock photography. Anyone can apply to be a contributor by taking an online quiz and submitting work samples, which must be approved by iStock staff. Contributors receive a percentage of each sale of their work. This structure results in a unique and eclectic collection of stock photography, illustration, flash and video at affordable costs.
iStock works on a system of “credits,” which can be purchased in various quantities. Ten credits cost $13, 26 cost $33, and plans continue up to 1500 credits. Content is sold for 1 to 20 credits, depending on the file size. A 5-credit photo is approximately 4x6 inches at 300 dpi. This makes for a fairly confusing pricing structure, as credits cost slightly more than a dollar each, and the price per credit varies depending on how many you buy. This can make billing clients for stock photography annoying, as the designer has to calculate prices based on the number of credits bought, as opposed to just buying a photo at a specific cost. However, this is a trade-off for low-cost stock photos.
Because of the user-contributed collection, there is often a large search result for photos and illustrations. While it may take some sifting, there are great files available on iStock. It is not the place to look for the classic “models posing” high-cost stock that many are used to. Instead, it is excellent for “real people posing,” photographic elements and backgrounds, and quality illustration. Editable flash files and video can also help a project in a pinch, as can the free image of the week.