At Minuteman Press Bristol we use a number of internet sources to search and acquire graphics and images for our design projects; from logo design and corporate identities to calendars and business cards. All sources provide categories to suit various themes and concepts.
The web is an excellent place for finding stock images because it will not use up memory on your harddrive (which you would if you had your own comprehensive image library). Graphic designers can pick and choose from large selections of images and graphics without having to purchase an entire library. You can also create your own database of images online, which are more familiar and useful then numerous CDs of images that take up space, gather dust and may never be viewed. Plus you only pay a small fee for the images that you actually choose to download.
Royalty free sites are also available, and can offer a wide selection of design elements and photos. We recommend two royalty free image banks: the classic Microsoft clip art, which also contains photo images, and the cutting edge stock.xchng. Both boast a large database of free images and vector graphics. We find stock.xchng extremely useful with a growing community that shares their own images with other users; plus there are tutorials, blogs and forums to share design solutions and knowledge of what to do when your image has been downloaded.
In terms of microstock photography websites, istockphoto and fotolia are two that we recommend. They have a more diverse and comprehensive range then the royalty free sites, but ask for payment for their service. The prices for these libraries come at varying levels depending on the resolution you require. For example: a low resolution (72 dpi) image is 63p (at the time of writing) and the same image at a resolution of 300 dpi (good printable quality) costs £6.30.
All in all there are some very good stock image libraries online to help avoid forking out on large image banks, and they make searching and acquiring images far easier than in the old days.