Alamy review (November 2022)

Who is Alamy Best for?

Although Alamy offers high-quality stock photos, its prices and licensing aren’t a good option for most customers. First, it’s considerably more expensive than its competitors, mainly because there are no subscriptions. The ready-made licenses are quite narrow and applicable to only one project, yet still expensive. If you want to use any image for multiple projects, you need to get a royalty-free license that costs up to $675.

Best Alamy Alternatives

AlamyShutterstockAdobe StockiStock
Best forBest for 360 imagesBest overallBest for Graphic DesignersBest for Subscriptions
Images270 million392 million280 million140 million
Extended license$67.96–$99.50$79.99$144–$216
Free trialNoYes (10 images)Yes (10, 25, or 40 images)Yes (10 images)
LicensesRoyalty-free, rights-managedRoyalty-freeRoyalty-freeRoyalty-free
Review(current article)Shutterstock reviewAdobe Stock reviewiStock review

What is Alamy

Alamy is one of the oldest stock photo agencies, and over the years, it has built an impressive collection of royalty-free stock images.

But Alamy has been criticized for unfair image acquisitions; allegedly, it sells images that are free for everyone.

Regardless of allegations, Alamy’s images are very high-quality and the variety of images covers most users’ needs, but those looking for affordable stock images will find better options elsewhere.

» MORE: Cheapest stock photo sites

Pricing & Licensing

Alamy sells images on-demand only, meaning you buy each image individually. You can also buy image packs to save some money, but it’s still more expensive than competing stock photo sites that offer subscriptions.

Alamy licenses images in two ways: based on the use (cheaper) and based on the image (more expensive). If you license an image for a specific use, that image cannot be repurposed elsewhere because you would need to buy a new license. However, royalty-free licenses based on images are more expensive, but you may use that image in multiple projects.

Usage-based licensing

You can buy each license separately, which is the more expensive option:

LicensePriceUse in
Personal use$19.99Personal prints, cards, gifts (non-commercial use only).
Presentation or newsletters$19.99Presentations, talks, newsletters.
Website$49.99A single website, social media, blog, app.
Magazines and books$69.99A single magazine or book, inside use, 2,500 worldwide reprints.
Marketing package$199.99A single marketing campaign worldwide (not for advertising).

Or save with image packs:

Use case5 pack10 pack25 pack
Personal use$16.80/image
Presentation or newsletters$16.80/image
Marketing package$169.80/image

In addition to standard images, Alamy also licenses 360 images (=panoramas):

LicensePriceUse in
Website or social media site$399.99A single website or blog for 3 months or social media for 3 months.
VR or game apps$479.99A single mobile game app, corporate promotional, commercial VR.
Digital publishing$524.99A single educational or retail publishing product for 10 years.
TV program$599.99A single TV program and all media, forever.
Marketing package$639.99A single marketing campaign (worldwide, not advertising).

Image-based licensing

Instead of buying images for a single project, you can use them in multiple projects when you buy real royalty-free image licenses. The price depends on their size.

Image SizePrice
360 Images$675.00

Custom licenses

Alamy offers bespoke licenses, completely tailored to your needs. No matter if you’re a smaller business owner who’s looking for a few stock images a year or a well-established company, Alamy is happy to help you.

Rights-managed license

Compared to a royalty-free license, a rights-managed license lets you use an image only for a certain project, within a certain time frame, and only in a certain area. Alamy has a very handy tool to select these parameters, which also govern the price. The rights-managed license can cost from a few hundred dollars to $16k+, like in the example below.

Rights-managed example on Alamy

Payment options

Alamy accepts all major credit cards (MasterCard, VISA, American Express), PayPal, and Google Pay, so you won’t have any problems finding the right payment option for yourself. All payments are safe and quickly processed, giving you the chance to instantly start using the purchased images.

Below is a screenshot of the Alamy payment dialogue.

Alamy review - Payment
Alamy’s Payment form

Image search tools

Alamy has a fantastic image search tool, that was so effective that Alamy even applied it for a patent. It is very easy to use and the implementation of various parameters makes finding the perfect image a simple task.

Search tools

With the selection of proper search filters, you can narrow down your search and find exactly the image you’re looking for. You can search by:

  • People: search by the number of people in an image, the age of the people, or even by their ethnicity.
  • Location: USA, UK, Australia, and Europe.
  • Image: select the orientation you want, pick the style, or enter the minimum file size.
  • Viewpoint: pick the angle that suits your needs. You can choose between front, side, rear, or profile.
  • Date: find images taken within specific time frames or search for the most recently added content.

Advanced search filter

Alamy’s advanced search filter is a great tool if you want to search for a particular collection or photographer or do a more detailed search. You can search by contributor name, or terms such as “all words”, “phrases”, “at least one of the words”, or “without the words”.

Alamy review - Advanced search
Alamy’s Advanced search toolbox

Related readingAlamy Search Tools on Alamy Blog


Lightboxes let you store images that you find and like when you’re searching, saving them for later, should you decide to purchase them.

To create a Lightbox, make sure you’re registered first. You can do this easily and quickly by clicking the “Sign Up” button, and popping in your details.

Once you’re logged in to your account, go to the homepage and select “My Alamy” in the top right corner and click “Lightbox” from the drop-down menu. Select “Add a Lightbox”, give it a name, and description (optional). Click “Save” and you’re all set to start adding images to your Lightbox.

Alamy review - Add Lightbox
Alamy’s dialogue to create a Lightbox

To start adding content to your Lightbox, go to the homepage, and enter your search term in the search bar. There are 2 ways to add images from the search results page.

Option 1. When you find an image that you like, hover the mouse over it and a set of 4 icons will very conveniently pop up. Click on the left-most icon.

Alamy review - Lightbox
Save to Lightbox, Option #1

Once you click the icon, a box will appear at the bottom of the screen, where you can select which Lightbox you want to add an image to.

Alamy promises that an icon changes once the image is added to a Lightbox to let you know that the task has been completed. However, no matter how many times I tried, I couldn’t make it work. Although the image was saved to my Lightbox, the icon didn’t change. This is not a huge issue since you get a confirmation when your image is saved to your Lightbox. It is probably only a temporary bug.

Option 2. When you find an image that you like, you can click on it and you will land on the image page. Next, you can click on the “Add to Lightbox” option under the image.

Alamy review - Lightbox Save
Save to Lightbox, Option #2

Once again, I couldn’t make the icon change work. Although not a deal-breaker, it would be nice to have. You can also learn more about Lightboxes in the Alamy vlog:

Alamy’s representation of Lightboxes (Source: YouTube)

Is Alamy right for you?

Alamy’s licensing is meant to be simplified, but it instead adds another level of complexity, because you also need to decide which license to buy. In addition, because Alamy doesn’t license stock images with subscriptions, it’s considerably more expensive than its alternatives, such as Adobe Stock or iStock. As a result, Alamy is not the best choice for smaller businesses and individuals on a limited budget, while large companies with more budget will benefit from better premium alternatives, such as GettyImages.

Rating Methodology

To review Alamy accurately, we took a holistic view of 31 stock photo agencies that incorporated image number, quality, variety, prices and pricing options, licensing terms, features, and customer support.

  • Image quality & variety: 20% of the score. We browsed each stock photo site for over 50 search terms and analyzed the resulting image quality and variety. Both were scored qualitatively based on our expertise and experience. The quality check comprised technical quality, including exposure, sharpness, grain, saturation, color temperature, and added value. The variety check was primarily focused on checking what percentage of images came from the same photo shoot.
  • Stock photo prices and pricing options: 20% of the score. Price is crucial in choosing stock photos, and having various options helps customers find the best plans. We checked whether the stock photo agency offers subscriptions, on-demand options, and which sizes. In addition, having a free trial is a bonus as it allows customers to get an insight into what they can expect. Finally, we considered the minimum, median, and maximum price per image and the price per extended license image.
  • Licensing terms: 20% of the score. We read and took notes on every stock image license. We compared them based on how many copies, reprints, impressions they allow, and indemnity value.
  • Image number: 15% of the score. The number of images is essential when rating stock photo sites because you can quickly run out of free photos when you need thousands of images. We checked each stock photo site’s database and took notes on the number of images.
  • Additional features: 15% of the score. Additional features are meant to simplify or enhance a customer’s workflow. We reviewed and tested all the additional features where possible. Since some are limited to enterprises, or we couldn’t get in touch with the support team, we searched for customers with access to the additional features and asked for their opinion.
  • Customer support: 10% of the score. Crucially, when testing customer support, we didn’t tell them who we were, so we got treated like every other customer. We took notes of the response times, contact options (live chat, email, and telephone), and the usefulness and kindness of the support teams.

Within each category, we also considered several characteristics, the number of images per most popular searches, technical quality, and added value. We also looked at the variety of pricing plans, minimum, median, and maximum image prices, and free trial terms. Finally, we evaluated Alamy’s customer support, licensing, and additional features that would enhance customers’ workflow.

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