About Us

About Us

Welcome to iStock, the web's original source for royalty-free stock images, media and design elements. Artists, designers and photographers from around the world come here to create, work and learn. Although iStock started with just a handful of photos in 2000, we now offer vector illustrations, videos, music and sound effects.

Millions of people depend on iStock for affordable prices and exceptional quality. All iStock files are royalty-free1, which means you only have to pay once to use the file multiple times. We even offer a Legal Guarantee1 - our promise that content used within the terms of the license agreement will not infringe on any copyright, moral right, trademark or other intellectual property right, or violate any right of privacy or publicity.

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What is Stock Photography?

Every day you see thousands of images in magazines, packaging, posters, online and on TV. But very few of these images were created specifically for that product, promotion or concept - what you're seeing is stock photography. Stock photos are ready-made images that are licensable for use in your advertising or promotional materials to illustrate specific things, concepts or ideas. iStock's images, media and design elements are just the beginning - they are the raw materials to get your graphic design started.

History of iStock

In 2000, if you wanted to load up on digital stock photos you had to buy a CD-ROM. But iStock realized that in the 21st century the old way of distributing images wasn't going to work anymore. Instead of trying to sell physical copies of digital files, iStock put images online for free and saw a creative community grow around this radical idea. Web designers loved it and downloaded as many pictures as they could. Some of them had digital cameras and started uploading images of their own. When the monthly bandwidth bills topped $10,000, we asked the iStock community if they would support paying for images. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

In 2002, iStock began selling credits. Now you could get a high-quality image for under a dollar, and the artist who contributed it got paid a royalty. It was an entirely new way of doing things. Some people called it the birth of 'microstock'. We just call it iStock.

iStock sowed the seeds for an entire industry, with millions of files, millions of members and tens of thousands of contributing artists, sending us photographs, illustrations, videos, sounds effects and more. But the basic idea remains the same: anyone, anywhere can join us for free, find the digital media they need and sell original content of their own. It was truly the democratization of the stock industry.

1 Excludes audio files in the Pump Audio collection.

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