Shutterstock Overview – Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2023 | Content Engine

You’ve probably seen or heard about Shutterstock at least once when looking for stock images. It is almost impossible to search for a photo online without coming across one published by Shutterstock, even on free image sites.

In short, Shutterstock is an American company that provides stock photography, stock footage, and stock music along with some editing tools.

It’s a very affordable way to include stock content for whatever you may be using it for, and its site is very user-friendly, so you should never have a problem using it.

In this Shutterstock overview, we’re going to be discussing everything you need to know about this service.

Shutterstock Overview – What Kind of Service Is It?

Shutterstock is an American company founded in 2003 by programmer and photographer Jon Oringer, and it is based in New York City.

If you’re not familiar with Shutterstock, it’s essentially a company that sells royalty-free content, such as photos, videos, and even music tracks.

It originally began as a subscription site only but has since progressed to a la carte pricing, which happened in 2008.

They maintain a library of around 200 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations and around 10 million video clips and music tracks available for licensing.

Their huge library and variety of their content is the reason why you can’t search for stock photos without coming across Shutterstock.

The History Of Shutterstock

The History Of Shutterstock

Jon Oringer founded Shutterstock in 2003, which was a new stock photography business that was based on licensing images under royalty-free licenses at a very low cost.

Initially, it offered 100,000 of Oringer’s own images, but it later expanded to allow contributor images.

You may be familiar with iStock, this company was also exploring a model similar to Shutterstock.

But Shutterstock was a pioneer in the innovation of its selling method, which was a stock photo subscription.

They would offer several downloads per day for a fixed, small fee, it was so successful that iStock and many other similar companies adopted this model instantaneously.

By 2012, the company had 18 million royalty-free stock images, the firm also announced a new tool named the Shutterstock Instant Tool, which allowed the photos to be displayed in an interlocking mosaic for viewing speed.

In March 2013, the company now had 24 million licensable photos, vectors, and illustrations in its portfolio, and Shutterstock and Facebook announced a partnership that would integrate Shutterstock with Facebook’s Ad Creator, this allowed advertisers to select Shutterstock images when creating ads.

Shutterstock built one of the largest stock libraries within microstock, with 95 million images and adding an average of 800,000 new pieces of content per day.

Technology has always been at the forefront of their model too, they have one of the most user-friendly sites, with some of their latest additions including mobile apps, free online media editors, and an advanced reverse image search and content suggestion tool.

In the company’s later years, they’ve put more of a focus on business, with an emphasis on becoming a sort of ‘one-stop shop’ for all visual creatives.

They’ve recently acquired new partnerships, stock footage, audio, and an editorial imagery service for celebrity and newsworthy content.

With nearly 20 years of experience, Shutterstock is a veteran of their business model, and you can be assured that you’ll receive high-quality content when using them.

How Does Shutterstock Work?

Shutterstock sells royalty-free licenses, and royalty-free images have a reputation for being quite affordable and very flexible in their usage.

So what does royalty-free mean? You don’t have to pay further royalties for the content once you’ve already paid for the license.

After you’ve paid for this license, you can use the content you’ve paid for forever, in multiple accepted uses.

But if you’re wondering if Shutterstock content is copyright free, the answer is no, you will have to pay before you use them.

The Shutterstock Standard License allows you to use the images for commercial, personal, or promotional purposes, marketing, advertising, graphic design, or just personal use.

It’s a good idea to use Shutterstock for commercial usage, this is because they’ll already check all images for model and property releases, so if they’ve been marked as commercial, you know that they’ve been checked and are safe to use.

There are, however, some limitations to using the Shutterstock Standard License.

Such as, you’re not allowed to use the images in a defamatory or derogatory way, you cannot use photos with models that suggest they are endorsing a product or selling a service.

And of course, you cannot resell, distribute or gift the image to anyone, it’s for your use only.

Some more restrictions are that Shutterstock will limit the print run and reproductions of the image to 500,000 copies and you’re not allowed to use the image in any products you intend to sell.

The limitations can be removed with an Extended License, you will have unlimited print and reproduction, and you may use the image on items you intend to sell.

Why Is Shutterstock So Popular?

Shutterstock has become so popular because of the variety of content they have and the low prices they offer.

You can pretty much find any image that suits your brief and use it for whatever purpose you want.

With the introduction of stock footage and stock music tracks, it’s become even more popular, as the content can be used in even more ways now.

If you’re unsure about committing to the periodic fees, or you just want to use a few images, you can test the waters as they have cheap, on-demand image packs.

If you need a lot of images, you can get them for dirt cheap, they can be as low as $0.26 each with a stock photo subscription.

You can also get stock footage and audio as well, so it can suit any of your needs.

If you have some gaps in your content, check out Shutterstock and see if this service matches your needs.



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