Shutterstock is a leading digital content provider of stock photos, illustrations, and videos. With over 1 billion+ images, vectors, illustrations, audio, and video clips Shutterstock offers one of the largest collections of stock media available online. 

However, with all of these options comes the question of cost. Are Shutterstock pictures free

The short answer is no, Shutterstock pictures are not free. They are licensed for use in exchange for a fee. Shutterstock offers a variety of subscription plans and pricing options to fit different needs and budgets. And, fortunately, in addition to the subscriptions it also offers a free trial and free images on certain conditions.

So, if you are looking to know more about if Shutterstock images are free or not, in this blog post we will clear all your confusion. 

How Shutterstock Works?

Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock image websites out there. This site helps creative professionals from any business and background with their best work. There are about 1 billion+ images, video clips, and music, 1 million+ contributor, and subscribers from 150+ countries.

It’s an all-in-one platform where photographers, illustrators, and videographers can upload their work to be licensed, sold to individuals and businesses, and start making some big cash by Shutterstock

In fact, according to Gottapics: a photography blog, “Shutterstock is a lifesaver as it helped them earn loads of money.”

So, when you purchase an image on Shutterstock, you’re actually buying a license to use that image in a specific way.

Now, let’s address the question that we are being asked many times: are Shutterstock pictures free

The answer is NO. All images on Shutterstock are protected by copyright and you can only use those images with a valid license.

This means, attempting to use Shutterstock images without subscribing or proper licensing will be considered a violation of copyright law and can lead to legal repercussions. In some cases, the punishment for infringing on copyright ranges from fines to imprisonment.

But, thankfully, there are some ways that can help you to use Shutterstock images without taking a subscription. With that in mind, let’s get into our next topic. 

How To Download Shutterstock Images For Free?

In addition to subscription options, Shutterstock lets you use its images for free by accessing its free trial, weekly freebies, and Shutterstock image pack without paying the premium. 

But, remember, these methods may not be optimal for those who need a huge number of images.

So, here are the legal ways of downloading Shutterstock images for free-

Method 1: Using the Free Trial

Shutterstock offers a 30-day free trial where you can download up to 10 high-resolution images without any cost and watermark. 

All you need is to- 

  • Go to Shutterstock’s main website,
  • Click on the option Pricing from the top right corner,
  • Then, select images, and from the packages go for the “Start a free trial” option. 
  • After that, fill out all the details and billing address required and you are good to go. 

Note: If you don’t want to spend any money or continue with the monthly package, you must cancel your free trial before the 30-day ends. Otherwise, you’ll be charged $29 per month.

Method 2: Download from ‘This Week’s Free Image’

Shutterstock offers a weekly treat for its users by providing a new high-resolution stock image and vector for free download. However, these images are not of your choice. 

There’s no need to sign in or provide any personal information, simply download the full-resolution image and use it as you wish. 

Another way to access free stock photos is by signing up for the newsletter by checking the box on the account creation page, which will allow you to receive random watermark-free royalty-free images straight to your inbox.

Method 3: Download from Shutterstock free collections 

Another way is downloading the free stock image collection. Here, you need to-

  • Select an image pack relevant to your need
  • Download the entire image pack.
  • Next, you should unzip the download zipped file and use the image you want. 

Method 4: LIP Free Pack for Students

If you are a student, there’s great news for you. Shutterstock offers 47 fully licensed free images for class assignments and personal projects. 

So, here’s a quick guide on how to do it:

  • Start by visiting the LIP student free pack page.
  • Once you’re there, you will find a button labeled “Get it now”. 
  • Click on it and the zipped file will begin to download.
  • Once the download is complete, unzip the file to access the images.

And that’s it! You can now use these images for any class assignments, personal projects, or any other creative endeavors you have in mind.


Shutterstock is a great resource for finding high-quality stock images, but it’s important to understand that the images on the site are not free.

While Shutterstock pictures are not free, they do offer free images through free trials and image packs, and even by subscribing to their newsletter which we’ve already explained in this guide. 

Have you ever used Shutterstock or any other stock image website? How was your experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.