8 marketplaces for stellar diverse, affordable & creative stock photos {+ 9 premium sites}

affordable diverse stock photos
15 min | Diverse Stock Photos series Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my 4-part series on diverse stock photos! While creativity is always high on the agenda, this time the marketplaces had to score high on diversity too. Find out my top 8 recommendations for creative stock photos from the leading marketplaces.

I’m writing this series because diversity is much more important than being of personal importance to me. We’re still living in a world where people are discriminated against and murdered because of the colour of their skin.

The civil rights movement is far from over and recent events in the US are taking us away from a world without:

  • racial violence
  • racial hatred
  • stereotypes
  • institutionalised racism
  • exotification & othering
  • xenophobia

I can dream, can’t I?

Seriously, though, a simple thing like making sure your brand images and photos feature a wider range of skin tones is VITAL to making this a reality and improving the lives and wellbeing of ALL people.


If you’ve not been following along, click the links below to catch up:

Part 1: Why it’s time for you to use stock photos featuring people of colour {+ free vs royalty-free licensing}

Part 2: The 15 best places to find diverse stock photos for ethical, style-savvy businesswomen & bloggers


So, what’s up in Part 3?

PART 3: 8 marketplaces for stellar diverse, affordable & creative stock photos {+ 9 premium sites}

  • The 9 most creative & diverse premium stock photo sites
  • The 8 most diverse, creative and affordable stock marketplaces on the internet


And still to come…

PART 4: The top 17 free and freemium stock photo sites, in order of diversity

  • Series recap
  • 17 great free + freemium sites, in order of diversity
  • Where to find more great stock photos



When I say “people/women of colour”, I’m referring to non-white people, including, but not limited to: First Nations/Aboriginal people {ie Native American, Maori, Pacific Islander, Inuit, etc}, African diaspora, Black, African American, African, BAME {Black Asian minority ethnic} Latinx {incl Hispanic}, Asian, Middle Eastern, mixed race, biracial.
Please note, that while I searched for other marginalised communities, this series focuses on women of colour in stock photos which are suitable for female-identifying, socially conscious, ethical and creative business owners & bloggers.


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49 top places to find brilliant diverse stock photos

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Two issues you’ll come across with these stock marketplaces are that:

  1. Many of the Black/African-American models are lighter-skinned which, to me, they look like they’re “mixed race”. In the US however, many people take on the “one drop rule” and identify as Black even when their parents have diverse heritages – for example, take the USA’s “first Black President” Obama, who’s mother was white.  For people of colour, how much of our identity is forced upon us by white people?
  2. Many of the same photos are across several sites. While being non-exclusive keeps the costs down for biz owners + gives more work to the photographers, it can become frustrating to find a range of realistic photos of people. Things are improving all the time and you can always go direct to the POC stock photo founders to boost your collection.

Okay, let’s dive in…


The 9 most creative & diverse premium stock photo sites

multicultural stock photos

While some of the premium sites have some gorgeous and incredibly creative shots, you have to drop at least over $100 per image – usually more if you’re using it for your website/blog or as part of a service/product branding. So, if you’ve got a premium product you’re developing and you’re looking for a key visual that few brands will have, or you want to give photographers more cashola – check out the following premium sites {in order of diversity} …

BTW Watch out for Getty Images and others licensing photos which are freely available in the public domain! For example, check government and national archives.

All the sites below feature highly artistic work often from award-winning photographers and great curated collections. Many may offer extra services, like photographer assignments.

I haven’t gone into too much detail, as most solopreneurs and bloggers will be looking for budget-friendly photos – that’s up next in Part C. The list below is in the order of #1 most diverse.

Key: Name: $Price blog-size ($less than 500px wide) to print size. RF: Royalty Free; RM: Rights-managed. Notes.

  1.  Getty: RF $150 ($50) – $485 /RM $$$-$$$$+; 4million black women; notable collections include Lean In.
  2.  Superstock: RM & RF; From £89 /$115 per image; 134,000 black women; notable collections include Science, Fine art.
  3. Media Bakery: RM & RF; $49 – $500+ per image; can search via ethnicity; 20 free photos every fortnight via their Tumblr account.
  4.  Image Source: RM & RF; £45 – £450 /$58 – $580 per image; notable collections include Skin, LGBT, Symmetry. 36% of catalogue with black women.
  5.  Dissolve: RM & RF; $199 ($50) – $500 per image & $10 – $19 small selection; specialise in video too; quirky; notable collections include Camera Shy, Real family, Decoy.
  6.  Plain Picture: RF; £95 – £865 /$122 – $1117 per image /image packs; can search via ethnicity; notable collections include Diversity, Emotions.
  7.  Twenty20: RF; $149 per month for 10 photos up to $3349 per year for 600 photos; 194 black woman collections, incl Beautiful & Black, Black Families, Black Culture, Women’s Health, Confident Women.
  8.  Cavan: RF & Buyout; $125 – $500 per image RF /$4k – $14k Buyout; can search via ethnicity; notable collections include Diversity, Girl Power, Pride.
  9.  OffSet: RM & RF; £240 / £480 per image; image packs; notable collections include Motherhood, Scandinavian Style.



The 8 most diverse, affordable and creative stock marketplaces for women entrepreneurs, bloggers & business owners

This section features low and medium-priced stock sites from the leading marketplaces which I, in my infinite wisdom, deem the most diverse!

The top performers, where numbers were available:

paid stock photos of black women

However, I didn’t just use these numbers as a measure.

As listed in my criteria near the start of this post, I also looked at a range of diversity factors, creative quality, relatability, cultural awareness, suitability, choice of elements, ease of use, royalties and price.

The first four are the big-hitters, but I have 4 more Special Mentions – fantastic sites, which are delivering stellar diversity results.


 #1: ShutterstockHighest quantity of diverse stock images of women of colour

multicultural stock photos

Founded in 2003, Shutterstock gives you access to 125 million royalty-free images, video clips and music tracks, with tens of thousands of new images added each week. They have a great choice, will show you a few POC in general searches and you can also search via ethnicity.

Diversity, empowerment, representation and choice rule here!

  • 4 million results for black women – 1.92% of their catalogue, 285,000 of which are of black business women
  • First Nation searches Aborigine {26,500 results}, First Nation {25,700}, Maori {4,500}, and Native American {51,500}
  • Mature woman, 650,000; and mature black woman, 38,300
  • Muslim woman, 72,600; Muslim business woman, 14,300
  • Plus-size woman, 66,300
  • LGBT{QIA}, 30,300
  • Disability: Wheelchair, 32,600; person in wheelchair, 20,021

Prices range from £29/$35 for 5 images to subscriptions from £228/$293pa or £29/$35pm for 10 images.

Go to Shutterstock 


 #2: Adobe Stock – Most creative stock images of women of colour

black stock images

Adobe is the powerhouse behind the tools that the vast majority of designers and creatives use, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom and 60 more! They also run Behance and 99u. They are ALL about creativity and Adobe Stock is quirky, gorgeous &/or practical, as needs be.

You cannot sign-up for a free browsing account, but you can get your first month free + 10 free photos when you commit to an annual plan.

Plans start at $29.99pm for 10 standard “assets” up to $199.99pm for 750 standard “assets” + extended licences from $79 and premium $249 / $499 – they offer video, templates and 3D stock alongside images. All plugged into your favourite Adobe programs.

So, how did they score on diversity?

  • WOC showed up on page 1 of searching women typing
  • 90 million photos – 4 million results for black women – 1.48% of their catalogue
  • 212,000 black business women
  • 3,000 – 33,000 First Nations
  • 286,000 Mature women
  • Plus-size woman, 66,300
  • LGBT{QIA}, 30,300
  • Disability, 33,700

 Go to Adobe Stock 


 #3: 123RF – Great diversity + best price for high usage of stock images

multicultural stock photos

Bootstrapped since 2005, 123RF has low 0.99% of their catalogue with women of colour, but their flexibility of pricing + availability of videos, audio, illustrations and graphics, pushes 123RF into 2nd place.

With 84+ million royalty-free works {images, audio, video, graphics} from 300,000 creatives, $25000 legal guarantee and unlimited commercial print runs, 123RF offers the most flexible pricing and the best deal if you’re looking for a subscription:

  • bulk buys, from £26/$33 for 5 print-size images
  • on demand credit downloads, eg £33/$42 for 40 credits could buy you 10 web-sized images
  • subscriptions from £59/$75 for 150 images per month.

Their diversity results were also strong:

  • 84+ million royalty-free photos, illustrations, videos and audio
  • WOC showed up on page 1 of searching women typing
  • 832,000 results for black women – 0.99% of their catalogue
  • 150,000 black business women
  • 3,000 – 25,000 First Nations
  • 340,000 Mature woman
  • Plus-size woman, 8,700
  • LGBT{QIA}, 9,600
  • Disability, 35,400

 Go to 123RF 


 #4: iStock {by Getty Images} – Pay as you go diverse, artful shots + a wealth of choice

women of colour stock photos

One of the oldest stock photo websites and creator of the crowd-sourced stock photo industry, iStock was founded in 2000. They’re now part of Getty Images and offer illustration, video and audio.

I like the iStock Editor, where you can see how the photo looks in different layouts, eg Instagram square vs landscape vs Pinterest dimensions. You can add a limited collection of fonts and filters. It’s not as powerful a design tool as Canva or PicMonkey, but it’s fast and easy to use as a reference.

If Getty’s a bit pricey for you, iStock offers two pay-per-photo collections and further packages:

  • Essentials £9/$11 per photo {ok quality}
  • Signature £25/$32 per photo {high quality}
  • Credits starting at £25/$32 for 3 credits, up to 300 credits for £1,872
  • Monthly subscriptions, from:
    • Essentials £25/$32pm for 10 photos
    • Signature {& Essentials} £65/$84pm for 10 photos

While iStock only have 0.62% of their catalogue featuring black women, their numbers bolstered their diversity results:

  • 125 million photos, illustrations, videos and audio
  • 777,000 results for black women – 0.99% of their catalogue
  • 100,000 black business women
  • 2,000 –49,000 First Nations
  • 260,000 Mature woman
  • Plus-size woman, 26,600 – highest of this top 4
  • LGBT{QIA}, 41,500 – highest of this top 4
  • Disability, 54,100 – highest of this top 4

  Go to iStock 


49 top places to find brilliant diverse stock photos

 Bookmark this post or  download your copy of 49 Brilliant Places to Find Diverse Stock Photos & more in the Members’ Only Vault.

Don’t want to subscribe? Access the spreadsheet without opting-in.


Special Mentions!

 #5: {Special Mention} Stocksy – Stellar creativity & diversity, empowering images + exclusive content from this cooperative

diverse stock photos source

Phew – that was a mouthful!

But, yes, Stocksy’s claim that they’re “Raising the bar – and the industry’s expectations – of stock photography and cinematography” rings true.

While their quantity is small compared to the big hitters above, their catalogue is highly curated, royalty-free, 100% exclusive and they’re a profit-sharing cooperative – what’s not to love?!

Here’s the awesome low-down:

  • Artists get 50 – 75% royalties
  • Content is exclusive, selective & curated
  • Free creative research team + high-res comps
  • Powerful search including ethnicity
  • Notable collections include Carnival’s in Town, It’s Time to be a Unicorn & Under the Sea
  • Great, simple royalty-free pricing:
    • $15, $30, $75, $125 {web –> billboard sizing}
    • Videos from $75+
    • Extended licences from $100
    • Market freezing 6 months to 5 years {$1,250 – $9,000}
  • Diversity stats – quality over quantity:
    • 29,900 results for black women
    • 3,200 black business women
    • First Nations – sparse
    • 9,500 Mature woman
    • Plus-size woman, 300
    • LGBT{QIA}, 1,300
    • Disability, 1,030

  Go to Stocksy 

P.S. Here’s what shows up when I search woman:

People of colour stock photos


#6: {Special Mention} BlendStellar diversity & ethos + highly creative

multicultural stock photos

Blend claim they’re “the world’s leading multicultural commercial stock agency”.

What I love about them is that they put diversity at the centre of their business. While I’ve seen Blend collections pop up on a couple of other big organisations, you can go direct to access their full catalogue.

They capture a range of images – here’s what’s so great about them:

  • Diversity is at the heart of what they do
  • They’re a consortium of photographers
  • Photographers get 50% royalties
  • Powerful search filters including ethnicity
  • Content ranges from natural to design-led to professional
  • Free creative research team
  • Free photoshoot pics every month
  • Notable collections include Color Surge
  • Royalty-free pricing options:
    • $20 – $250 – Premium range, $5 – $50 Value range
    • Extended licences from $99
  • Rights-Managed Pricing: Editorial or Commercial bundles from $99 – $1,399
  • Diversity stats – quality over quantity:
    • 60,500 results for black women
    • 14,300 black business women
    • First Nations {11k}
    • 44,700 Mature woman
    • Plus-size woman, 170
    • LGBT{QIA}, 400
    • Disability, 1,100

  Go to Blend 


#7: {Special Mention} Twenty20 – Authentic, real-world photos with strong diversity

cultural diverse stock photos

When searching for black woman on Twenty20 I was pleasantly surprised with the choice of styles of photos. I think this is partly due to their iPhone app giving more spontaneous styles of photos to choose from alongside their polished professional shots. In fact, the claim they’re the world’s largest mobile photographer marketplace.

You have to become a member to buy their photos, starting your subscription at $149pm for 10 photos. They also have annual plans.

Twenty20 have 300,000 contributors and name-check some huge brands as clients, like MTV, Google, Eventbrite, NBC, LinkedIn, L’Oréal, Macy’s and many more.

I love their large range of collections, but would like the chance to buy individual photos.

Diversity stats – quality over quantity:

  • 23,800 results for black women
  • 194 collections in response to searching black women
  • sparse black business women
  • Hundreds First Nations
  • 1,000 Mature woman
  • Plus-size woman, 200
  • LGBT{QIA}, 1,400
  • Disability, 450

  Go to Twenty20 


#8: {Special Mention} Creative Market – Great diversity, choice of elements & creativity + 70% goes to creators

diverse stock photos marketplace Creative Market

I LOVE Creative Market! They’ve not got the biggest range of stock photos, but they make up for it with their textures, fonts, illustrations and more.

My only quibble is that I wish you could search within one creator’s shop, because some people have thousands of photos which can be onerous to search through.

But all the positives outweigh that one issue, which I’ve no doubt they’re working on.

Here are all the reasons why I love Creative Market:

  • Their products are suitable for the needs of today’s DIY-enthusiast/creative solopreneur or blogger – with stock photos, textures, templates, graphics, icons, themes, 3D, pre-sets/add-ons + gorgeous designer fonts and artists’ illustrations.
  • Creatives get 70% of what you spend {and they can set their own prices}
  • The prices are very reasonable, eg $5 – $15 for one photo or, for example, $97 for bundled items
  • Payments are flexible – you can pay-as-you-go, buying items as you need them or add micro-credit to your account
  • You can follow designers’ shops, heart items and view how recommended they are
  • You can direct message any designer
  • Licences are straightforward
  • Every week there are 6 free goods available every single week
  • Once a month they offer a “Big Bundle”, where you can get over 70 items with over $1,000 for under $50!
  • You can make private and public collections, so you don’t have to go searching for that one photo you loved weeks ago – see my {Business} Women of colour collection {370+ photos}
  • Diversity stats – quality over quantity:
    • 30,500 results for black women
    • 3,400 black business women
    • 300 First Nations
    • 5,400 Mature woman
    • Plus-size woman, 200
    • LGBT{QIA}, 146
    • Disability, sparse

Go to Creative Market  

Go to my {Business} Women of colour collection 


#9: UPDATE! {Special Mention} Canva

diverse stock photos on Canva

Canva is my favourite place to knock up picture quotes and imagery for my blog & social media and they recently contacted me to let me know they’ve collated all their stock photos!

While their search facility could use a little improvement (searching “black women” brought in lots of images of white women in black clothing, as well as WOC), searching images tagged “African” and “afro” yielded much better results.

Another reason I love Canva, is that they have a huge range of elements, textures, graphics, icons, themes, fonts and illustrations, as well as photos and pre-designed templates. Many of which are FREE! You can upload your own images too.

Canva helps you design great-looking marketing collateral for your business.

  • High-quality photos – Canva selects contributors based on their portfolio
  • Great prices: photos from $10 and elements from $1, though many are free.
  • Over 2 million & growing design elements, including templates, fonts, illustrations, graphics, icons and photos.
  • Has all the core sizes you need, from Instagram to posters to brochures + you can make multiple-paged PDFs.
  • Easily download/share your designs with team members + free & paid business accounts with perks, like your brand colours, folders & team members.
  • Diversity stats:
    • 41k+ results for African & 10k+ results for afro
    • 5.1k & 0.8k mixed for black women & black business women respectively
    • First Nations – sparse
    • (5.1k mixed) Mature woman
    • Plus-size woman, 420
    • LGBT{QIA}, 600
    • Disability, 4,200

Go to Canva Photos  

Get a free account on Canva.com  


49 top places to find brilliant diverse stock photos

 Bookmark this post or  download your copy of 49 Brilliant Places to Find Diverse Stock Photos & more in the Members’ Only Vault.

Don’t want to subscribe? Access the spreadsheet without opting-in.


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What’s covered in Part 4…?

Up next I’ll share:

PART 4: The top 17 free and freemium stock photo sites, in order of diversity

  • Series recap
  • 17 great free + freemium sites, in order of diversity
  • Where to find more great stock photos


If you care about diversity, please share this post.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to support small and independent businesses as much as possible, and you won’t get all your products & services from a one-stop-shop either! Mix and match is the way to go – let me know how you get on with the above marketplaces and go here to support businesses founded by POC.