Where to get affordable royalty free stock photos

In my opinion this question has gone from easy to answer “just go to istock photo” to extremely difficult; istock prices are way too high and they now own or influence the free sites like stock.xchng which are covered with their banners and premium offers. I run multiple blogs and have literally been priced out of the market for good images and photography. It doesn’t make good business sense to spend $10-$50 for one image in order to add a little life and color to a post that will probably never recoup its value.

It’s all very upsetting for someone like me who has been loyal to istock for so long. Sure, there are some affordable pics out there but not most, and sorting through takes forever since you can’t see the price without clicking into the photo itself. Then there’s this whole “credits” system they use that’s designed to get you to spend even more and get confused when making purchases. It’s trashy.

I realize there are alternatives, even free images listed on flickr under the Creative Commons designation open to commercial use (use the advanced search menu in Flickr to sort this way). One drawback to this approach is the requirement for linkbacks and attribution. I also wonder sometimes, if regular Flickr users accidentally set their license to open and shared but then forget and get upset when they see their children or home on a nationally distributed blog. There’s always the “asking permission” approach but that takes too long and is unreliable at best. I’d rather just use stock imagery… if I could only afford it.

Maybe you can relate to all of this? I was at a standstill with photos and actually began using fewer and fewer images on my blogs when almost most magically, I came across PhotoDune!

Leave it to the wonderful folks over at the Australian owned Envato to come up with such a wonderful service. Yeah, I’m talking about the guys who brought us ThemeForest for website and WordPress themes and Tuts+ for tutorials and academic materials. Please, please Envato… Don’t ever sell out! I’m sure you guys are printing money over there and some guy at Yahoo or Microsoft wants to bring you in but you’ve remained true to the users and it does not go unrecognized. If there weren’t laws against a young man such as myself marrying a creative network such as yours, I would propose to you right now. This quality and care is what sets you guys apart, you do the right thing and you have awesome accents. An intoxicating combination.

So for all you bloggers and PowerPoint junkies out there who are going broke on istock. Check out PhotoDune today for affordable royalty free stock images then write a letter to your local government official urging them to recognize human to website matrimony so I can finally be at peace. And keep in mind that I am an unpaid, unaffiliated blogger who has actually been using many of Envato’s services as well as istockphoto for the past several years. One other cool bit about PhotoDune is the free image of the day… check it out and thanks again Envato. Good on ya!

UPDATE: One more reason iStock sucks, just got this notice via email: This is just a reminder from us at iStockphoto that your iStock credits will be expiring soon. iStock credits expire within 1 year of the date of purchase. So the credits that you purchased on DATE will expire on DATE. That’s 30 days from today.

I’m just wondering… why is it necessary to expire someone’s credits like this? No other online stores I use run this kind of prompting to rush you into purchasing? Maybe it helps them clean out old accounts or it’s just another form of alert based marketing but it certainly isn’t an enjoyable experience for the customer.