Let's chat about stock photography. I've used stock sites for nearly a decade while working as a designer and commercial photographer with great success. Most of the options I used in the past left a lot to be desired, which is why last year, I switched over to Adobe Stock. I made the change for many reasons, but the most important was their integration into Adobe Creative Cloud.
Over the years, I have used countless stock sites and given them mixed reviews. All of the ones I used have their pros and cons, but generally, I've found they either didn't have the best quality, they were too expensive, or they just didn't have the community of creatives filling them on a daily basis. In contrast, Adobe Stock runs on a familiar subscription service and comes with a huge benefit: it connects directly to all the Adobe software I already use on a daily basis.
The biggest reason I switched to Adobe Stock is for its integration into the programs I use every day. It allows me to simplify my workflow and complete my projects at a much faster pace. For example, within Adobe Lightroom Classic, Illustrator CC, and Photoshop CC, there is an option to search in a sidebar for all types of stock photos, grab a sample image, or download it directly into your composition. The screenshots below show exactly how easy it is to search within Adobe software. For example, in Illustrator, all you need to do to find a stock image is click the Creative Cloud icon on the selection pallet.
Now, if you're a photographer who doesn't use Adobe Creative Cloud software, you still have the option of grabbing assets from Adobe Stock. Instead of easy integration into your editing program though, you simply have to open a browser to search the Adobe Stock site.
My role as an art director constantly necessitates additional assets. For example, in many jobs, I end up having to replace skies, edit grass, bring in various landscape elements, or even edit in entire objects that we didn't have budgets for or weren't able to capture correctly due to shooting conditions. Sometimes, my clients don't have a budget to shoot any aspects of the image, and I need to create an entire composition from stock. In almost all of these cases, I have been able to find what I needed from Adobe Stock.
The options are constantly evolving as well. Uploads seem to change constantly as I can search for the same term over the course of time and see completely different image options pop up. This has solved a problem of redundancy I found with other sites such as iStock.
I have found Adobe Stock rates to be great for my workflow, and it's easy for photographers to try out without much risk. Although they have a variety of plans, you can sign up for a 30-day trial and get 10 Adobe Stock standard assets free. You won't be charged until your second month when you sign up for one year of Adobe Stock (10 assets a month plan) at $29.99 USD per month (plus applicable taxes). If you find you don't like the service, you can cancel risk-free within the first month.
To be totally honest, I think Adobe has the best stock platform. I can guarantee you can find a cheaper option elsewhere, but the sweet spot for stock photography is finding an offering that gives you a great selection of new and fresh images for a reasonable cost and a simple workflow. I have not found this perfect combination with cheaper options.