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New Stock Photo Sites Challenge Notion of “Stock”

by Margaret Penney | April 14, 2017

Today’s stock photo websites look nothing like the ones from a few years ago. The marketplace has demanded a new kind of stock image, one that looks more like editorial photography only seen in print magazines up until now. Since so much content is produced for the web, having sources of high quality photographs ready for use on the web is more important than ever. Also, photographers have so many tools at their disposable to capture and edit beautiful imagery, that it could be argued that the quality of stock photography has improved overall.

Let’s take a look at Stocksy and Offset, two new stock photo websites  that are leading in the market.


Stocksy is fast becoming a go-to website for content creators looking for images. The photography is high-quality and yet at the same time many of the images have a kind of informality to them, as if the people in the images are “real people’ and not the stiff “stock photo” type character that the Interwebs have devoted many a meme to ridiculing.

If you don’t know what I mean, just take a look at the woman laughing at salads meme or just Google “woman laughing at salad.” It’s a stock photo cliche so overused that it’s now meme-worthy. Content producers today really want images that have a more genuine look, as if they represent reality.

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So, Stocksy has these kinds of ‘real life’ images and also a great selection of active shots. The collection has a kind of dynamism from surfers facing off against a wall of water to fitness enthusiasts doing hand stands against a monument.

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Stocksy also has some very creative imagery, in particular images that are a contemporary take on a traditional portraits and still life. The photographers seem inspired by oil paintings and classic art and this gives these image tableaus a kind of richness and artistic depth.

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Stocksy works because it blends realism with dynamism plus creativity in the images it sells.


Offset is an exciting new offshoot from Shutterstock that offers premium quality photography and curated collections in a variety of styles. You can find collections about different lifestyles like working outside of the office or motherhood.

Collections also are about experiences, like outdoor summer fun. At Offset, they describe the images they curate as authentic, which is similar to the way that the Stocksy images present. Both websites showcase the work of award-winning photographers. Offset also has a robust Illustration category.

Both Offset and Stocksy also differ from traditional stock photo sites in how they handle pricing. All images are royalty free and come with a standard license that is ample for most uses. Extended licenses can be purchased separately.


Margaret Penney is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Margaret is a teacher, designer, writer and new media artist and founder of Hello Creative Co.


Are you interested in stretching your photography skills? Sessions College offers a wide range of online photography courses as well as digital photography degree and certificate programs. Contact Admissions for more information.

This blog is powered by Sessions College, the leading online school of visual arts.

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