Websites such as iStock.com and ShutterStock.com provide royalty-free stock photos, but they ask for a subscription in order to compensate for access to their databases. Many stock photo databases require a subscription in order to use the stock photos or vectors found on their websites.
One alternative that does not ask for a subscription is StockVault.net, which is a website that lists high-resolution stock photos entirely for free. Their database is much smaller than those found on subscription-based websites.
DreamsTime.com is a website that more directly advertises itself as a middleman service, offering a website for photographers to sell their photos and for designers to purchase them. This allows for access to royalty-free photos with a wide range of themes, with many free choices available for those looking for them. The photos available for purchase come at very low prices, so they do not require costly subscriptions, and photos can be bought one at a time.
Stock photography is an area of photography that replaces hiring an actual photographer. Prices for stock photos range so widely because only a small amount of people can gain the rights to a more expensive stock photo, making it more unique than cheaper photos that anyone could buy and use.