With A Major Creative Cloud Update, Adobe Finally Enters The Stock Photography Market

Adobe Stock is aggressively priced, and built right into Photoshop and other applications.

Eighty-five percent of the people who buy stock images are users of Adobe applications such as Photoshop. An even higher percentage of the people who create such images–north of 90%–use Adobe software to produce them. If that sounds like it could be a big business opportunity for Adobe–well, it is. And Adobe Stock, the company’s new marketplace for canned photos and illustrations, is the biggest pieces of news in today’s major update to the Creative Cloud suite of applications and services.


Adobe Stock is built on Fotolia, a stock-image service that Adobe announced it was acquiring last December, and that will remain available. But it introduces several new twists, the most notable of which is that it’s built into Adobe software such as Photoshop, and Illustrator. You can browse for images within the apps and work with watermarked placeholder versions before plunking down any money. If you do go on to pay for an image, any tweaks you made to the watermarked version, such as filters, get automatically applied to the for-pay version.

Some stock-image services have Byzantine pricing policies that make it tough to figure out how much you’ll pay for any given item. With Adobe Stock, it’s straightforward, and the bottom line is aggressively low: If you subscribe to Creative Cloud, you pay $29.99 a month for access to up to 10 images. There are only a few other options, including paying $9.99 for a single image or $199.99 a month for access to up to 750 of them.

Scott Morris, senior director of marketing for Creative Cloud, told me that Adobe doesn’t just want to leverage its community to find customers for Adobe Stock. The service is starting off with 40 million images from Fotolia’s collection, but he says Adobe expects that number to grow as Creative Cloud users submit new items. Creators of stock images typically get a 25% royalty, Morris says; Adobe will offer 33%. It’s also looking into building image-submission tools directly into Photoshop and other apps, which could make selling stock art nearly as easy as buying it.

Adobe Stock will set the bar high from a quality standpoint, Morris says, but “that doesn’t mean there won’t be an image of a cat on a surfboard–people like that sometimes.”


The new Creative Cloud release includes a cornucopia of other changes across the suite, including performance enhancements; Android versions of mobile apps previously only available on iOS; a new iPhone app for capturing color schemes for use in the Premiere video editor; and lots more. As usual, Adobe has added some new image-enhancing wizardry, including a Photoshop tool that can remove haze from photos–or add it. Here’s a preview of that feature:

About the author

Harry McCracken is the technology editor for Fast Company, based in San Francisco. In past lives, he was editor at large for Time magazine, founder and editor of Technologizer, and editor of PC World.