Last month I was given the unique opportunity to try out the awesome stock photo site, Fotolia. I am not sure if you are all familiar with sites like these, so let me give you a little debriefing on the subject. Stock photo sites provide users with royalty free images that you can purchase. They contain a variety of different products, including videos, vectors and photos.
After using the site for awhile, I have come to the conclusion that fotolia is one of the better options out there. They have a ton of available images for purchase and the search is completely customizable. You can do a general search of all photos, illustrations, vectors and videos or if you can narrow it down. You can also choose to do an advanced search where you can search by representative categories or conceptual categories. Once you select an image you can also choose which size you want. If you are going to be using the image for something small, you can save money by purchasing it at a lower resolution.
Speaking of purchasing, there are two different ways you can go about obtaining your images. If you are someone who downloads a lot of images, you might want to choose to sign up for a subscription. You can customize this as well, but I would be more likely to go with the second option, the credit system. I just do not download enough images to make the subscription worthwhile. With the credit system, you will be paying more per image, but you can alter it to fit you exactly. If you are only going to be purchasing a few images, you can buy the exact number of credits needed. That way, you aren't buying extra credits you don't need.
There is however one thing that I did not like about Fotolia. I wish that there was a better way to select like images. Let's say you are browsing through a collect of images and you find one that is almost what you are looking for. There isn't really a way to find more images based on the one you selected. You can chose to search through the same representative and conceptual categories, or you can use one keyword, but you cannot choose multiple keywords.
However, I would still highly recommend Fotolia. If you are patient enough, you will eventually find what you are looking for and customizable size and credit options make it worth you time.