Shutterstock: review and full tutorial on the image bank

By Rebecca
14 Min Read

Shutterstock review: today one of the largest content banks in the world with over 241 million files available for purchase. Beyond the image bank and news photos, Shutterstock also lists brel and music in its database.

To help you better understand the platform, we have produced on Shutterstock Review to present how the content search engine works as well as the various features present in the offer. Part of our article is also dedicated to the platform’s pricing policy, and you will find our review on Shutterstock at the end.

Shutterstock overview

Shutterstock review is originally an American image bank that saw the light of day in the early 2000s. It was not until 2012 to see the giant carry out an IPO to continue to keep its rivals at bay. Competitors include iStock, Getty Images, 123RF, and Adobe Stock (formerly Fotolia). You can consult the best image banks of the moment here.

Today, more than 241 million pieces of content are available on Shutterstock, including more than 180 million images and photos of excellent quality. The video offer has grown considerably in recent years since the platform offers 12 million (including 2 million in 4K). Several hundred thousand pieces of music are also available to clients of the platform.

Beyond general images, music, and videos, Shutterstock wanted to develop on current photos: a section dedicated to “fresh” shots in sport, leisure, or even “crowned heads” allows you to buy photos on the latest news of the moment. On average, no less than 200,000 new content is added to Shutterstock every day.

The image bank is proud to have 1.8 million customers worldwide, including agencies such as bloggers. It has developed a price list that allows all businesses to be able to claim to download royalty-free images (and other content) legally. Yes, because “free of rights” does not mean “free”.

Shutterstock review: default license allows content to be used without having to pay a royalty for each use. This does not prevent that it is also obligatory to give the credit of the image during an editorial use (on a blog or a site for example). Shutterstock recommends the following format: “Artist Name /”. In video productions, credit should be mentioned at the end of the clip.

Now let’s move on in this Shutterstock tutorial to the search engine – which is none other than the heart of the platform.

Shutterstock review: How the search engine works

In the top menu on the left, the user must first select the type of content they want to search: image, video, music, or “editorial”. This last type of content corresponds to recent news photos which are sorted into 4 sub-categories: crowned heads (ie celebrity news), sport, leisure, and news.

No matter what page you are browsing the site on, there is always a search bar that allows you to search for content, and define its category. Below, the visual shows how this search bar is arranged on Shutterstock. As you can see in the image, it is also possible to see the Shutterstock price list from all pages.

Shutterstock review: Image search on Shutterstock

This Shutterstock review is above all an image bank, and it is on this that the American giant has gained its notoriety. Admittedly, this is one of the best sources today to buy royalty-free images at a reasonable price. As you will see below in our review on Shutterstock, this platform offers a very competitive value for money on images and photos.

When you type “dolphin” in the search bar, you get the following results. In total, more than 83,300 results are available for this keyword (883 pages), and it includes photos as well as illustrations or vector images. A filter is also used to classify the type of images, the orientation, the majority color, the people, or the size of the image.

Shutterstock also gives a series of related keywords. Here: whale, shark, horse, dolphin …

Once you have clicked on the image you want to buy, you arrive on a dedicated page that offers you to download the photo. You can choose between S, M, or L format (dimensions are indicated each time you select a different format). Know that when you buy a photo, it becomes immediately accessible in all formats. And it’s logically the same rate whether you take the S, M, or L photo. Once you’ve uploaded the photo, you can re-upload it as many times as you want, and you won’t have to pay for that.

You still have to check the type of license you are subscribing to. There are 2 at Shutterstock:

In terms of prices, Shutterstock breaks down its offer into two parts: it is possible to buy an image pack on an ad hoc basis, or it is possible to subscribe to a monthly license which allows significant savings. Very clearly, it is the monthly subscription that makes it possible to achieve a reasonable price for the images. This can go as low as € 0.21 per image – for very high-quality images.

Image pack:

  • 5 images = 49 € (9.80 € per image)
  • 25 images = 179 € (7.16 € per image)

ShutterMonthly plans without annual license:

  • 50 images per month = 2.50 € per image (125 € per month))
  • 350 images per month = 0.45 € per image (159 € per month)
  • 750 images per month = 0.27 € per image (199 € per month)

The above rates only concern the monthly plans without commitment. For those willing to make an annual commitment at Shutterstock, the pricing drops even further. For example, the 750 images per month with an annual license allows you to get each image at 0.21 €. For those who are convinced by the solution, this is obviously the best option.

Below you will find the prices for the Shutterstock Plus license:

As you can see from the start of this Shutterstock review, there is a dedicated video section as well. Today, it contains more than 12 million contents which are accessible for purchase via packs or individually. However, there is not yet a monthly formula. Below, all the details of this section.

Searching for videos on Shutterstock

Below you can see a preview of the screen that appears when you click on the “video” tab in the top menu. You then arrive on a page where the search bar is highlighted.

You can then type in keywords that refer to the video you are looking for. For more precision, you can use the filter by categories located on the right of the search bar.

For those who don’t really know what they’re looking for, Shutterstock displays a section of “popular video categories”, a “handpicked collection of videos” or even a cloud of keywords on the hottest topics in the world. moment.

At the search level, everything is done very smoothly, and the search engine quickly generates a selection of videos related to the keywords.

Be careful though: if you make a mistake in a word, Shutterstock will show you few – if any – results. If you type for example “lanterns” instead of “lanterns”, the number of results goes from 39,000 to only 182…

Below you can see the results generated for the query “lanterns” in the videos section of Shutterstock. On the left of the screen, the platform offers various filters that are quite practical to find the content that you really want (resolution, images per second, durations, people, categories, contributors, etc.).

By clicking on one of the videos, you can then see it in large format (with a Shutterstock badge that prevents malicious people from stealing the video) as well as the associated prices. In this case, a clip in HD is now billed at 59 € HT per unit. Shutterstock offers a sliding scale based on the number of videos that are purchased.

Prices for video packs on Shutterstock:

  • 1 clip in HD: 59 € per unit
  • 5 clips in HD: € 53.80 per unit
  • 10 clips in HD: 49.90 € per unit
  • 25 clips in HD: € 47.96 per unit

Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest on the market, but it allows you to have quality videos with a certain rarity. This is not necessarily what you will use to create a small clip to broadcast on social networks, but it is rather useful when you want to make a professional video. The Standard license explicitly allows you to use the clip on the web, live (at concerts for example), or on social networks such as YouTube. On the other hand, it is not possible to use it on TV or in the cinema.

Note that the lower definition version is available for € 50 per unit.

Read more: Best image bank: the comparison for 2021

Automatic renewal on Shutterstock

The automatic renewal on Shutterstock is one of the weak points of the platform. Indeed, some users complain that this feature is enabled by default. In other words, as soon as they subscribe to a monthly pack, an automatic debit system is set up until the customer decides to cancel his subscription.

This is quite logical in itself, but Shutterstock deserved in our opinion to better communicate on it to avoid the few comments that can be found on the internet. Note that the deactivation of automatic renewal is done very simply from the space dedicated to packages on the customer’s account. Shutterstock is completely transparent on it, there is no error.

Shutterstock also prides itself on offering a “price guarantee” system to its customers. In other words, the price displayed for the images found in the package is blocked – even if the prices were to increase thereafter. Shutterstock, however, limits this price guarantee “for 15 months from your original purchase”.

Our opinion on Shutterstock

As you could see in the Shutterstock tutorial above, the process to register, manage subscriptions and download content is very intuitive. If Shutterstock is so successful today, it’s because the platform has managed to offer a high-quality user experience (for both contributors and customers) with smooth navigation and an easy-to-use search engine.

While Shutterstock is probably not the most competitive when it comes to video pricing, the platform remains a benchmark for images. With millions of images at just pennies per unit, this is a really good plan. This will require opting for a monthly package: unit packs imply a higher price – which is less convincing. However, this pricing policy can be found among all of Shutterstock’s competitors: image banks do not want to sell packs of a few images, but rather focus on regular uses with monthly subscriptions.


For website maintenance service contact us.

By Rebecca
Rebecca is an Independent content writer for breldigital, She writes content on any given topic. She loves to write a case study article or reviews on a brand, Be it any topic, she nails it