Dreamstime review

by Matic Broz

Dreamstime review: Summary (2021 Update)

Dreamstime is a microstock photo agency that was founded 21 years ago, in 2000. While it’s not the flashiest or the biggest, Dreamstime has built a well-deserved reputation for being fair, served millions of satisfied customers, and put together a library of high-quality stock photos.

Being known for its inexpensive stock photos, reliability, outstanding support staff, and great commissions, Dreamstime is a favourite among both customers and contributing photographers.

  • 20 years+ of reliable and fair service
  • 152 million photos, illustrations, cliparts, and vectors
  • 33 million registered users
  • 600,000 contributing photographers
  • 4.1 million+ new monthly images
  • Inexpensive stock photos
  • Generous commissions
  • Owns an active blog
  • Member od DMLA
  • The first to receive CEPIC
  • Founding member of European Tech Alliance

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Dreamstime pricing

Dreamstime sells stock photos by subscription plans or on-demand, both of which are super-easy to understand.

Dreamstime automatically outlines the best options for you, provides discounts, a free trial, and is overall 100% transparent about its billing process.

Subscription plans

Dreamstime sells its stock photos with six subscription plans that come with either monthly or annual contracts. The bigger the subscription plan, the more it costs, but it’s also more cost-efficient.

Subscription plans work by you paying a fixed amount every month, and in return, you get a fixed number of downloads every month.

Subscription plans are the best option for you if you need stock photos for a longer time; this way you’ll also get the most out of your money.

Subscription Pros
  • A lot of subscription plans to choose from
  • The lowest prices in the stock photo market
Subscription Cons
  • You have to commit for a period of time
  • Smaller subscription plans are less cost-efficient

Dreamstime sells photos for as low as $0.22 per download – this is the same as Shutterstock of iStock for example.

Dreamstime - lowest prices1
Screenshot of Subscription plans from Dreamstime

Keep in mind that if you pay in advance for the entire year, you get an additional discount.

Here’s the table of Dreamstime subscription plans, the prices, number of downloads, and price per download.

Monthly downloadsMonthly pricePrice per download
Subscription plans downloads, prices, and price per download

All the prices I explained until now, are for stock photos registered under Royalty-free license (more about the licenses later).

Dreamstime is one of the few stock photo agencies that also offers subscription plans for photos registered under Extended license. These cost a lot more, starting at $19.55 per Extended license photo.

Credit packages

When you buy a Credit package, you pay with real money to get a fixed amount of credits, that you can then use to purchase photos, vectors, videos, etc.

Credit packages are the best option for you if you only need a couple of downloads, but don’t want to commit for a long time.

Credits Pros
  • 10 credit packages
  • Extended licenses can be purchased with credits
  • Multi-seat licenses can be purchased with credits
  • More flexible
  • You don’t have to commit
Credits Cons
  • More expensive
  • Cost of photo by credits depends on the number of downloads of a photo

Dreamstime review - Credits packs
Screenshot of Credit packs from Dreamstime

You can purchase Dreamstime credits with 10 different Credit packages that differ in the number of credits and price.

Credit packs sizes, prices, and price per credit

Photos don’t have a fixed credit price; in fact, the price of photos depends on the Content level (0 to 5) that depends on the number of downloads and the age of the photo. Read more about levels.

When you purchase photos with credits, the price changes with size and resolution.

I’ll make all the following price references based on this one photo I found in Dreamstime by searching for “office”.

I can purchase this photo in 7 different sizes and two different formats. Let’s see how the price changes with size.

By purchasing a popular photo with credits, I can save up to 64% of my credits, and that’s huge! In this case, I would only pay $3.52 for an on-demand photo. You won’t find a better price for an on-demand photo anywhere else. For example, on Alamy which is based on on-demand photos, you can get on for over $6.

Dreamstime is also kind enough to donate 10% of extra royalties to their contributors during the current Covid-19 crisis.

Dreamstime images

Dreamstime sells more than 150 million images, all of which were carefully checked for technical quality and the overall usefulness by the Dreamstime curators.

Dreamstime review - Image quality
Screenshot of “christmas” search results from Dreamstime

I dare say, that even if you download tens of stock images every day, you’ll never run out of fresh ones. In the screenshot above, you can see that by typing “Christmas”, you get a lot of high-quality, beautiful stock photos, and there’s plenty more where this came from.

With more than 4 million being uploaded every month, Dreamstime is also one of the fast-growing stock photo sites.

You can download Dreamstime images in different 7 sizes and two formats, jpg and tiff. You can find all the information in the table below.

SizeResolutionPixel per inchFormat
Image sizes, resolutions, and formats

The price of all stock photos depends on their Level, ranging from 0 to 5. Levels are determined based on the photo age and number of downloads.

The levels of images are determined based on table below.

LevelNumbers of downloadsAge
Level 00> 6 months
Level 10< 6 months
Level 21-4/
Level 35-9/
Level 410-24/
Level 5> 25/
Image levels criteria

Image price in credits depends on the license, size, and level of the image. In table below, you’ll find how much do Royalty-Free images cost in credits based on their level and size.

Image sizeLevel 0Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4Level 5
Images prices in credits based on Level and Size

I want to remind you that these costs only apply to credits. When you purchase images on Subscription plan, you only pay with one download that has been given to you at the beginning of the month.

Dreamstime Licenses

Royalty-Free (RF)

Royalty-Free (RF) license is the most common form of a license and gives you the most freedom.

  • You pay for the image once and use it as much as you like
  • There are no additional or recurring fees – once you purchase it for a fixed price, it’s yours to use
  • RF license is granted only for non-watermarked and high-resolution images
  • Free files downloaded from Free Photos section may be used under the RF-LL license

You can use the RF license to decorate your home and office, use them on your website, create advertising postcards, flyers, posters, and use them for interior designs. You can also use photos under RF license to illustrate books, CDs, magazine, newspapers, and their covers, create posters, company presentations, and wrappings for products.

In contrast, you cannot use RF licensed photos to create any sort of product that you’re going to resell, that includes postcards, calendars, posters, T-shirts that will be resold, to create logos, or trademarks.

If you have any doubts about the proper use of the license, contact Dreamstime first.

Extended Licenses (EL)

Extended Licenses, as the name suggests, extend the rights you gain in comparison to Royalty-Free license. Dreamstime offers four Extended Licenses that are not mutually exclusive:

  • Unlimited Seats (U-EL) – Extends the regular RF license to an unlimited number of sit within the same organization.
  • Web Usage (W-EL) – includes the right to use media for web templates that are sold to more customers, screensavers, e-cards, PowerPoint representations or as wallpapers.
  • Print Usage (P-EL) – includes the right to use the media to be reprinted on items such as greeting cards, mugs, T-shirts, etc.
  • Sell the Rights (SR-EL) – the license represents a full ownership of the images; however, the buyer may not claim that the file was created by them nor should they sell it.

Read more about Dreamstime licenses.

Image sizeLicensePrice
Subscription All-at-onceRF1 download
Subscription Daily-doseRF1 download
Unlimited SeatsU-EL50 credits
Web UsageW-EL50 credits
Print UsageP-EL50 credits
Extended License SubscriptionEL1 download
1 Year ExclusivitySR-EL1$62.5
3 Year ExclusivitySR-EL3$150
Sell the rightsSR-EL$250
Universal Royalty FreeRF-U$500
Universal Extended LicenseU-U$1,000
License prices

Image searching tools

Immediately when you try to search for photos, you’ll find a few suggestion tiles with the best selling collections of photos.

If you’re at all familiar with Google Image Search, you’ll immediately understand Dreamstime Image searching tools. The most useful search option is by searching with a keyword, “camera” for example. Based on your research, Dreamstime searching tools will provide a few further suggestions, such as “photographers” and “camera icon”.

You can easily narrow down your search by using cleverly designed filters, such as the number of people in the photo, pricing, license, photo orientation, and a few more handy options. Additionally, you can also sort search results by Most relevant, Bestselling, and Latest uploads.

Dreamstime review - Image search tools
Dreamstime review: Screenshot of dreamstime.com/stock-photos

Dreamstime free download

You can download Free Photos and Images by clicking here.

Even though these photos are free, they are registered under Royalty-Free and CC0 license. I encourage you to read the terms of use before you actually start using free photos.

In short, you can download photos and use them as long as you abide by the rule of the RF license and attribute the author and Dreamstime as such: Free photo 144892350 © Publicdomainphotos – Dreamstime.com

Dreamstime contributor

Dreamstime contributor program has a commission table that’s closely tied to the licenses and Levels of the images. Percentage-wise contributing photographers receive between 25% and 60% revenue share. 

Moreover, for any file, you have an exclusive contract, you get an additional 10% bonus. To become an exclusive contributor of Dreamstime, meaning you cannot submit the same photos anywhere else, you must have at least 50 approved images on Dreamstime.

Dreamstime review - Contributors earnings
Dreamstime review: Screenshot of Dreamstime contributor program earnings

You get paid via Paypal, Payoneer, Skrill, or by check, once your earning’s balance reaches $100.

There are four more ways to get paid by Dreamstime.

1. Referrals

By becoming Dreamstime partner, you can share your link on your social media, with your friends, or on your blog, and you will receive 10% of the gross value of the person who signed up using your link for 3 years, for both customers and contributors. You can become Dreamstime partner by signing up here.

2. Assignments

Once a month, Dreamstime organizes an “assignment” on a specific theme, such as “Ageless” or “Simple things”, and everyone can upload their photos that best fit this description. Winners receive $300 (1st place), $200 (2nd place), and $100 (3rd place).

However, Dreamstime is very strict about the images that get accepted, in fact, it’s a challenge to even get accepted, let alone being able to win. Dreamstime team provides some guidelines for images to maximize your chance of success:

  • Unique images – Dreamstime cherishes creativity and uniqueness. If you bring something new to the table, something no one has ever seen before.
  • Artistic pieces – artistic and dreamy images that tell a story through lighting and composition, and also have a narrative.
  • Complex illustrations – well-executed illustrations stand out as much as good images do, plus, they are a lot rarer and therefore more valuable.
  • Rule breakers – while it’s important to follow some rules of photography, Dreamstime encourages you to break those rules and explore new compositions and effects.
  • Don’t upload cliché images.
  • Take advantage of special times of the day, such as the golden hour.
  • Experiment with angles, exposure times, focal lengths, and colour schemes.
  • Find new and interesting subjects.

3. 10,000,000th milestones

Every 10,000,000th (= every 10-millionth) image upload gets a special prize, iPad Air. The next prize is at 150,000,000th.

How can you enter the competition and maximize your chance of winning??

  • You must be an active member on the Dreamstime forum
  • Upload the maximum amount of pictures allowed each day
  • Provide high-quality material
Dreamstime review - Dreamstime contributors prize winners
Dreamstime review: Screenshot of 10,000,000th milestone winners

4. Blog Contests

Recently, Dreamstime has started a new series of assignments that come with attractive prizes, $300, $200, and $100 for first through third place.

How to become a Dreamstime Contributor

To become a Dreamstime Contributor, start by creating a free account.

You can do so by clicking here

You don’t have to pass any tests to become a Dreamstime Contributor. As soon as you create an account, you can start uploading your images, but make sure you upload only the very best.

Dreamstime has become very competitive lately, consequently the criteria for images sky-rocketed.

Before images become available to customers, they must be approved by the Dreamstime team. Any images that are noisy, vulgar, or don’t fit the context, won’t be accepted.

Before you upload a file, you must make sure that you meet the following criteria.

  • You must be the owner and own the copyright for everything within it.
  • Don’t upload offensive content.
  • Clear copyrighted material, such as labels, logos, etc.
  • Traced illustrations should have the original image uploaded in the Property Release Area
  • Add a relevant description
  • You must upload a Model release or a Property Release for all recognizable people or properties.

Dreamstime prefers generic images that have a lot of commercial uses and marketable opportunities, but the approval team will also pay attention to technical quality (colours, lighting, sharpness). Uploaded images should be JPGs in RGB or sRGB colour space with a minimum resolution of 3 MPs but not more than 70 MPs.

Dreamstime review - image upload requirements
Dreamstime review: Screenshot of image upload requirements

I know you must be eager to upload your own images and earn some money by now, but don’t get too hasty. There’s a weekly limit to how many images you can upload, and it varies based on your approval rating. The more of your images get improved, the more you can upload, so you can see why it’s crucial to upload only the very best images.

Here’s the summary of the number of uploads:

  • Approval of 80% and higher: upload the maximum amount of images per week. This also applies for the first 50 submissions for new contributors.
  • Approval between 50-80%: upload 1/2 (half) of the maximum amount of images per week.
  • Approval between 30-50%: upload 1/3 (third) of the maximum amount of images per week.
  • Approval between 10-30%: upload 1/4 (fourth) of the maximum amount of images per week.
  • Approval between 0-10%: upload 1/6 (sixth) of the maximum amount of images per week.

In addition, all exclusive contributors get extra 50% uploads above the given limits. Contributors with more than 500 images online and an approval rating higher than 85% can exceed the weekly limit by several times.

Dreamstime Contributor: Adding Keywords

Adding keywords to images you upload is for sure a very dull task, but precisely added keywords are a game-changer and will boost your earnings by a 10-fold. What is more, adding unsuitable keywords could get your punished and your images removed. Dreamstime is hell-bent on always showing the most relevant content, and it will also pay $0.02 for reporting of bad keywords.

To help you with this mundane task, Dreamstime has a “Keymasters” program, where a person, a “keyworder”, will manually add keywords for you. This service costs 60 cents per image. Although it’s quite expensive for a single image, other Dreamstime contributors love this program.

Dreamstime review: FAQ

Is Dreamstime legitimate?

In 21 years of experience with stock photography, Dreamstime has acquired more than 33 million registered users and 152,000,000 stock images. Hence, everything about Dreamstime is 100% legitimate and safe to use.

Are Dreamstime photos free?

Dreamstime licenses photos under a Royalty-free license by default. You can get 15 completely free stock photos by using a free trial. Alternatively, you can download thousands of CC0 photos for free.

How does Dreamstime make money?

Dreamstime makes money by selling Royalty-free and Extended licenses of content uploaded by its contributors to the customers.

Is Dreamstime copyright free?

No, Dreamstime is not copyright free. You may, however, use CC0 photos for free, but you need to credit the author and Dreamstime.

How much does Dreamstime cost?

Dreamstime sells content with subscription plans $0.19 – $4.60, and with credit packs for $0.88 – $24.48, per piece downloaded. Extended licenses cost $62.50 and $1,000.

How do you make money on Dreamstime?

You can make money on Dreamstime by uploading your photos, vectors, illustrations, and other creative works to its contributor program.

How do I cancel Dreamstime subscription?

1. Log in to your Dreamstime account
2. Click on My Account
3. Select Payment Management
4. Uncheck Auto-renewal
5. Confirm

Dreamstime review: Conclusion

Among all the microstock sites, Dreamstime sells its photos at the lowest prices and takes special care of the image quality and its contributors.

The variety of subscription plans and credit packs guarantees that you’ll find a plan that suits you.

Dreamstime contributor program is highly profitable and user-friendly, with several ways to make money.

Whether you’re looking to buy some stock photos or looking to earn more money, Dreamstime is a great option.

Dreamstime has an average rating of 2.8 stars from 358 reviews on Sitejabber, 3.4 stars from 867 reviews on Trustpilot, and 4.3 stars from 13 reviews on G2. The majority of Dreamstime customers complain about a free trial, credit card payments, and customer service problems.

Dreamstime deals

Save 30% on ALL offers
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Dreamstime Logo

FREE/15 images


This table is updated daily and guarantees the lowest prices.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and are based on my experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. This post may contain affiliate links.

4 thoughts on “Dreamstime review”

    • Hi Thomas,

      Yes, this plan is still available, but Dreamstime has apparently changed its pricing system a bit. It now states the price for the entire year, which is $600: but $600/12 = $50 (~ $49.99), so it’s basically the same.

      You can use use THIS LINK to navigate right to the pricing.

      See the image below:
      Answer to a comment about pricing

      The pricing system also depends on which currency you’re using. For example, for Euros it looks different, because there are other offers, but in the end, they are all quite similar to one another.

      I also fixed the article to better reflect the current prices.

      Thank you for your input!


      • Matic,

        I wasn’t seeing that a few days ago, but I am seeing it now on my desktop computer. What’s weird is I’m seeing the $49.99/month option for 100 downloads on my mobile phone again.

        • Hi Thomas,

          it seems that they’re doing some A/B testing at the moment.
          That’s when you show some customers variant A and other customers B, completely randomly.

          Overall, the prices don’t seem any different, so it shouldn’t be a problem.



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