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20 Best Stock Photo Sites (Free & Paid) for Stunning Images

You know most people consider stock photos not being as visually impactful as the real photos are. Right?

Well that’s not the case at all!

Maybe they have been looking for stock photos in the wrong platforms.

Or maybe they are stuck in the time when stock photos were all about staged meetings and models wearing a wide smile on their face over a plate of salad.

In recent years, the stock photo industry has evolved to a sizable degree. As per the increasing demand of realistic photos, professional photographers have ditched those generic, cliched photos for photos dispensing connection and authenticity better than ever before.

In this post, we will take you through 10 best open sources (free) and 10 best premium (very affordable) stock photo websites.

See for yourself to end the Stock Photos VS Original Photos debate once and for all.

The Credibility of Our Best Stock Photo Sites List

We narrowed down the 10 Best Free Stock Image sites if and only if they met our set criteria.

Each website ticked the boxes before getting it into our list. Let’s check the requirements that a website must meet that makes it credible to use for your websites. 

  • Photos are licensed and there must be no hidden fares.

  • Crediting the photographer is a choice of the user, not a compulsion. (though a shout out is always welcomed as a courteous gesture.)

  • Photos are nothing less than the highest resolution.

  • The image libraries of websites should be popping with fresh ideas. We don’t want to see the same stock photos used on every other website.

Free Stock Photo Websites

  1. Unsplash
  2. Pexels
  3. Pixabay
  4. Picjumbo
  5. StockSnap.io
  6. Burst (by Shopify)
  7. NegativeSpace
  8. Stokpic
  9. Gratisography 
  10. Reshot 

Paid Stock Photo Websites

  1. iStock
  2. Adobe Stock
  3. Depositphotos
  4. Death to Stock
  5. Pond5
  6. Yay Images
  7. Dreamstime
  8. 123 RF
  9. Media Bakery
  10. Getty Images

Free Stock Photo Websites at Their Best

First, let’s check out the free websites to source stock photos. See if you find something that resonates with your endeavor without having to spend any amount on it.

If you area photographer, these platforms can equally serve well to sell stock photos.

1 - Unsplash - Stuns you With its WoW Factor

Rating: 9/10

Why Choose Unsplash?

Choose Unsplash if you are a nature enthusiast, and your blog vibes with your taste. The real, raw vibe you get from its collection of Nature Photos is uncanny!

From mountains, landscapes, sunsets to simple plant leaves, bloggers regard their collection as the most authentic.

closeup of leaf in hand

Unsplash is LOVED for

  • Frequent Uploading

10 new Unsplash royalty-free stock photos are uploaded every 10 days. 

This super-high uploading frequency ensures everyone gets fresh and new content. This is to avoid the repetition of the same images all over the internet.

  • Relevant Images

Unsplash is known for its relevance. 

The team of professionals on Unsplash know exactly how to click stock photos that sell. Relevance is the key element of their work.

Here, you search for “A Book with an Apple,” and you get precisely that. No beating around the bush.

  • On-The-Go Usage Facility

Download photos anytime and anywhere through the Unsplash app.

 

  • Challenging Content

A well-curated collection of simple images depicting great concepts (take a look at the picture below that illustrates “social distancing” through chairs)

practicing social distancing through chairss at distance
  • Consistent Quality

Unsplash is a prime pick as a stock image database for Silicon Valley Companies for its consistency in the image quality. 

The superior quality of images makes you sometimes doubt them being “Free of Cost.” 

Some give a neck to neck competition to paid images, giving your website a more expensive and polished look than ever.

  • Variety of Great Visual Content

The monstrous community of 5,00,000 PLUS professional and semi-professional photographers contributes thousands of new and artsy images each day. 

This vast library leads you to create completely unique content from your competitors, who also fetch images from the same source.

2. Pexels - High-Quality Stock Images

Rating: 9/10

Why Choose Pexels?

Choose Pexels if you wish your website to outperform its competitors with to-the-point, aesthetically appealing videos.

Pexels spoils its users for choice with overloaded options to create fresh and creative content. 

Here, it’s time-lapse videos are worth a mention. 

Enjoying the freedom to edit the video as you like, you can illustrate boring topics in exciting ways integrating texts in these videos. 

Pexels is LOVED for:

  • Excellent UI mockups 

Pexels is the ideal choice for web developers. It is loaded with authentic modern tech images, all free for editing. You can easily integrate your brand’s logo or website’s layout design onto the green computer screen as a model. 

  • Color-Themed Orientation of Images
black and white images on pexels

Guess what? There is a MEGA PERK calling out all the designers! The homepage of Pexels showcases a massive collection of top images aligned following a color theme!

Suppose your business website or personal blog follows a particular color scheme. In that case, you must be aware of its importance in making conversions.

Starting from black and white to colors of life like blue, green, pink, Pexels is beautifully arranged with monochromatic stock photos. This reflects a visually cohesive look. 

This simplifies the process of choosing relevant images based on a single color theme for web-developers.

  • Ease of Use
app of pexels opened in smartphone

Pexels plugins and extensions make the sourcing of images to your projects so much easier and quicker! 

The vast bank of free images is also available at your fingertips through the Pexels iOS and Android app.

These options make browsing convenient with personalized options like “previously liked photos.” 

  • High-Quality Videos on a Variety of Topics

Pexels pioneered as an online library featuring not only high-quality images but videos too.

65% of visitors on a website tend to watch a short video that explains the text written concisely, rather than reading the long paragraphs.

This serves as a tool to skyrocket engagement and bring far more clicks than mere photos. 

cover image of pixabay

3. Pixabay - High-Definition Visual Assets

Rating: 9.5/10 

Why Choose Pixabay?

Choose Pixabay if you are an L&D professional who is short on expenses. 

From the vast online gallery, you will find many visually appealing images. Use them in your e-learning courses and upscale the game of your designs.

Pixabay is LOVED for?

  • Vast Variety of Options

Besides 1.5 million+ royalty-free stock photos, the online gallery of Pixabay features a great many options. This is the prime reason for its high rating. 

You can add so much into your content and all for free!

For the purpose of high-level creative content production, you can explore and download from their collection, which includes:

  • Free music

  • Free videos

  • Free illustrations

  • Free vectors 

  • Specificity

Finding high-res, royalty-free licensed images was never more accessible before! But even better, using Pixabay’s handy search engine tool, you get concrete results to your queries. 

If you are picky with the stock photos you use, Pixabay is where you will find peace.

At Pixabay:

  • Decide whether the orientation of the image will be horizontal or vertical.

  •  Set a particular width and height of the photo.

  • Select color specifications from transparent, black and white or any color of your choice from their list.

  • Pre-define the category from the long list of 20 types of images you want your specific search to belong to.

  • Further narrow down your search choosing one of the categories from popular images, latest images, upcoming images, or editor’s choice.  

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4. Picjumbo - Vibrant and Trendy Images

Rating: 8/10

Why Choose?

Choose Picjumbo if your brand is for young customers, especially teenagers who are into vibrant colors and trendy shots.

Picjumbo is LOVED for:

  • Its Flatlays

Pixabay mainly features flatlays with distinctive visual appeal. They help give your social media, blogs, or websites a more sophisticated, professional, and put-together look. 

If your product can be illustrated well with little details, use flatlays. They divert all the focus of the potential customers to the product developing their interest in the website. 

flatlay of a watermelon piece in someone's hand

Take an idea from the flatlay below covering makeup brushes that can be well used for product photography for your brand.

flatlay image of makeup brushes
  • Model Release Relief

Artists at Picjumbo very cunningly hide the models’ front faces without losing the essence of the image subject. 

Take a look at some of its images below for an idea:

girl wearing mask using mobile phone

These images are technically apt blurring out the faces in not an obvious manner.

This frees you from carefully eyeing only those images that don’t have identifiable models in them.

Thus you don’t have to quite worry about the model release copyright issue with Picjumbo.

However, we always advise you to be careful!

  • Text-Friendly Photos
white flower with blurred background
boy holding bouquet of rose

Picjumbo’s online gallery needs more images to become the ultimate stock photos of the go-to resource. 

However, the current collection is quite text-friendly. Bloggers and content creators can utilize these stock photos as their featured image or thumbnail image.

These images are consistent with their backdrops, having cornered the subjects, so that the text to be written is legible.

different images displaayed on the main page of stocksnap

5. StockSnap.io - Soft Aesthetic Vibes

Rating: 8.5/10

Who should go for StockSnap?

Choose StockSnap if your brand vocalizes bold and untapped social issues. This place adds the perfect hint of freshness and newness to emotionally engaging visuals.

From women empowerment, human diversities, black lives, body shaming to rape, you will find a gorgeous array of visual assets here.

SnapStock.io have their fingers right on their pulses to bring you royalty-free images to use. All  images are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

SnapStock.io is LOVED for

  • Rich Color Schemes
white flower in blue jar

If your e-commerce website follows a primary color stream throughout, SnapStock.io will overload you with options.

Each collection of stock photos depict how closely the photographers have followed all photo composition tips that bring about the smooth texture in them.                       

This helps your brand resonate with its ideal audience and communicate with them quickly. 

  • Unique Flare

SnapStock.io has its uniqueness lie in its originality. Though not in abundance, they have stock photos that deliver the message of your business in a non-cliched manner.

 

 

 

6. Burst (by Shopify) - Featuring New Ideas

Rating: 9/10

Why Choose Burst?

Choose Burst if your website/blog/commercial billboard dispenses chilled out and ethnic vibes.

Burst is galore of creatively stunning public domain stock photos available for use in literally ANY form. 

Also, you will love its stock featuring an active lifestyle. Its yoga and fitness photo collections are a must to check out if you want images that actually motivate your customers. 

women carrying out different aerobics moves

Burst is LOVED for:

  • Its Image Resolution Variety

Burst makes sure its customers receive only the best. For this purpose, it makes photos available in both high and low resolutions.

High-resolution images fit perfectly for web and print purposes, where crisp and clear photos are needed.

While the low-resolution images suit small web graphics speeding up the website speed. 

  • Artsy Collection for Flatlays

Burst packs some of the best flatlays there is to offer. You will find something in every niche.

For product photography stock photos, we highly recommend Burst. Try some of their gems

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7. NegativeSpace - All Imaginable Photos

Rating: 8/10

Why Choose NegativeSpace?

Choose NegativeSpace if your website is not about everything. Instead, it is very categorically sorted.

The homepage of NegativeSpace boasts all its collections under their respective categories. 

Right from each photo album’s thumbnail, you will understand where to head without wasting a lot of time in keyword searching. 

NegativeSpace is LOVED for

  • Neat and straightforward Image Compositions:
sparkler firework in hand

NegativeSpace takes pride in hand, picking the best submissions from photographers. You will never find cluttered images at this venue. 

blue dumbles on floor

This makes the process of deciding which image to use much more comfortable and quicker. 

Their stock photos mostly project one central subject in focus with a blurred background around.

This is how they remain true to their website name, “NegativeSpace.”  

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8. Stokpic - Add That "Human" Element

Rating: 8/10

Why Stockpic?

Choose Stokpic if your products’ use can be better illustrated with unposed, candid photos. Stokpik is a famous choice by users for its spontaneous collections.

Stokpic is LOVED for:

  • Diversity

At Stokpic, we have photos of many diverse and random settings. 

This brings about the uniqueness needed to make your brand or blog stand apart from its competition.

This is mainly because the owner of the website, Ed Gregory, is a photographer himself.

He has been in this field for 10 years, and so his love for shooting just keeps growing. Therefore, he shoots anything that crosses his eyes. 

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9. Gratisography - Real Entertaining Content

Rating: 9/10

Why Choose Gratisography?

Choose Gratisography if your blog has an informal tone and playful, young vibes.

Furthermore, your potential customers ought to be witty enough to get the humor hidden in the images.

We recommend integrating comedy into your blog posts or social media to get the message across in a more engaging way. 

Gratisography is LOVED for:

  • Dedicated yet Versatile
girl holding mannequin leg

We love how this website is effortlessly focused on creating ONLY funny and intelligent content.

Yet, there is still so much variation found. We mean, each image makes you laugh with a different formula. 

  • Clean Humor

The humor in the images is mostly represented in a satirical form.

The community of professional photographers is very keen to make sure no idea is offensive to anyone.

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10. Reshot - Find the Non-Stocky Images

Rating: 9/10

Who should go for Reshot?

Choose Reshot if you are sick and tired of the repeated, cheesy and unrelatable stock photos commonly used by every other website. 

Reshot leaves behind its competitors by promising and fulfilling the promise to bring “Non-Stocky photos” for its customers.

This place will surely impress you with its minimalist approach, presenting concepts in a simple but aesthetic manner.

Reshot is LOVED for:

  • Non-typical Results

We tried different websites for “FLOWER IMAGES” to get the EXPECTED cliched bouquets or a girl holding a rose.

Reshot presented to us with an image that genuinely meant to evoke a feeling of fragility and humility in the viewer.

flower seeming like frock of dancing girl

It was quite a “thought-provoking” experience studying each image at Reshot.

We were awed when we realized how beautifully and naturally the image connected the fragility of a young, sensitive girl with a flower.  

Why Use Paid Stock Photo Sites

Because free stock photos are NOT ALWAYS LEGALLY SAFE!

Read that again.

Free stock photos are NOT ALWAYS LEGALLY SAFE!!! 

But why? And how? 

Yes, it’s true! Free stock photos come with their own set of risks.

Photographers waive off their copyrights to the images they submit to these free sites.

This makes them available for use in any commercial project or for personal use without attributing the authors. 

But here’s the catch!

These free stock photos don’t often come licensed with the individuals’ privacy rights, property, trademarks, and logos featured in those images.

You need a SIGNED MODEL RELEASE from the model for every identifiable human face in a photo. If the website doesn’t provide that, you will have to attain it from the model yourself. 

Otherwise, you can get sued by the right holders anytime for privacy infringement. The worst part is the grave amount of Copyright infringement penalties that you need to pay to get rid of the claim.

Sound quite like a trap. Right?

However, you can still use Free Stock Photos Safely!

Follow any of these hacks, and you are safe with using free stock photos:

  • Get the photos with recognizable faces verified for model releases. This is not only applicable to human faces. Even if the featured image has a pet’s face in it, you should have its owner’s consent before using the image.

  • Look for images that intelligently crop out or blur the faces of models, logos, and properties.

  • Don’t use images from unauthorized photographers. 

If you have enough resources to invest, enjoy a carefree experience at these paid stock photo websites. 

Besides having visual assets with higher technical accuracy, these premium websites are entirely safe to use in all legal aspects. It gives them an edge for their high commercial value.

Premium Stock Photo Website Options

Besides having visual assets with higher technical accuracy, these premium websites are entirely safe to use in all legal aspects.

It  gives them an edge for their high commercial value.

Let’s check them out.

istock cover

1. iStock - Assets that Elevate Creative Projects

Rating: 9/10

Cost: ($90 – $110 for 10 assets a month)

Why iStock?

Choose iStock if you have a small or mid-sized business thriving to create a strong email marketing campaign. 

iStock is LOVED for:

  • Availability of Email Videos:

iStock library has so much to offer in the form of email marketing videos. The highest ROI comes from email.

Therefore, experience evolution in the number of clicks using iStock royalty-free stock videos, costing you a fraction of what you will get back.

 

  • Fastens Workflow

iStock plugins and apps are undoubtedly one of the best toolkits for designers. 

Without leaving your editing platform (Adobe Creative Cloud, Sketch, Photoshop, Dropbox), easily embed images using credit packages or subscriptions. 

Content management was never this convenient.

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2. Adobe Stock - Storytelling With Images

Rating: 9/10 

Cost: ($25 – $35 for 10 assets a month) – very affordable

Why Choose Adobe Stock?

Choose Adobe Stock if you want to try something grand for your business yet save on your pocket.

Adobe Stock is LOVED for:

  • Free Trials

Adobe Stock lets you try and test their stock photos for a good 30 days. Once you find their content resonating with your brand’s requirement, make it a permanent abode for your projects. 

 

You even get to embed 10 free photos initially. Make sure you choose the right ones that go entirely according to your brand’s voice.

 

  • Extensive Catalog with Affordable pricing:

This website gives tough competition to its likes for the variety and high quality of images. Small businesses will find this place perfect because of their affordable packages

 

The pricing starts from $29.99/per month for annual plans with complete access to standard images, templates, 3D, and music tracks.

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3. Depositphotos - Value for Money

Rating: 8/10

Cost: ($90 – $110 for 10 assets a month) – On the High-end side but well worth the money!

Why Despositphotos?

Choose this amazing platform if you are in search of satisfying content for product photography to be used for your ad marketing.

Depositphotos is LOVED for:

  • Stock Photos with Attention to Detail

Depositphotos is galore of images proposed for featuring in a product’s ad. 

While browsing through their digital shelves, you will be forced to stop by multiple shots to stun you with their details.

sparkling silver heels worn by a girl

The stock image you see above pours intensified lighting on the heels with darkened surroundings.

Such images are highly sought by small businesses who can’t afford to hire professional photographers to capture close-up looks with such precision. 

  • Pricing

Depositphotos are one of those rare agencies that sell more for less.

For a pricing scheme starting from as low as $0.22 per image, Depositphotos has rightly earned the trust of big names like Bosch, TripAdvisor, and much more alike.

4. Death to Stock - Projects with Fresh Visuals

Rating: 10/10 (We loved its costing for the variety and quality they offered)

Cost: ($10 – $20 for UNLIMITED assets a month)

Why Choose?

If you are always on a hunt for fresh content for your brand or blog, choose Death to Stock.

Death to Stock is LOVED for:

  • Updating Target Creatives with Surge of Fresh Content:
death to stock monthly emailing of new photos to subscribers

A great combination of generic and specific stock photos at Death to Stock focuses on creatives.

To keep the inspiration flowing in with continuity, they send the fresh images directly to their subscriber’s inbox.

That’s how you never miss out on opportunities to buy images that will exactly go with your brand’s or project’s “vibe and tribe.”

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5. MediaPond5 - Storytelling Made Easy

Rating: 9/10 

Cost: ($150 – $250 for 10 assets a month)

Why go for Pond5?

Choose if you are anything from a filmmaker to a designer looking for top-notch quality images in the public domain that depict stories and emotions.

Pond5 is LOVED for:

  • Full of life images:

Pond5 features copyright-free photos by artists for artists.

The professional photographers and creators from around the world know their craft well. 

 

They know exactly how to evoke emotion in the audience.

Each image is strategically captured in a way that runs a short reel of the story behind it.

 

This is why you will mostly find people’s photos in this domain.

Still, there is nothing to worry about the model releases as they clearly indicate where the licenses are granted.

“We only have model or property releases where expressly indicated on the Item Page.” – Pond5

 

  • Variety of Media

This space has so much to offer. And everything is far beyond the highest standards of quality. 

 

Pond5 promises to provide every option digitally possible to elevate video projects of designers. 

 

It features:

 

  1. Royalty-free stock videos
  2. Footage
  3. Illustrations
  4. Motion graphics
  5. Music tracks
  6. Sound effects
  7. Photoshop PSD
  8. 3D models
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6. Yay Images - Professional Photos at Budget

Rating: 7.5/10

Cost: ($20 – $40 for 35 assets a month)

Why Yay Images?

Choose Yay Images if you have enough time to spare to dig out “Stock Photo Gems That Will Convert” from a pool of cheesy, generic, cliched photos.

This is possible if you are a freelancer having ample time to research the best content without breaking the bank.

Yay Images is LOVED for:

  • User-friendly Platform

Everything is fun and straightforward, from searching to inserting stock photos from Yay Images to your projects.

Using their advanced search features, you will land right on your desired image. 

Its interface houses all the essential editing tools like cropping, text overlay, or resizing. So, you don’t have to first embed the image and then open it up in an editor. 

  • Legally Safe Database of Images

Use all images without worrying about any copyright restrictions. 

This open-source website provides all the rightful perks of legally-safe stock photos to its users for the license fee.

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7. Dreamstime - Build a Strong Brand Image

Rating: 8/10

Cost: ($30 – $50 for 10 assets a month)

Who should go for Dreamstime ?

If you are a teacher or a student looking for economical options to make engaging and relatable content out of your teaching materials or projects/assignments, Dreamstime is for you.

Dreamstime is LOVED for:

  • Dedicated Corporate Measures

Whenever there is a global economic loss, the Dreamstime team generously rolls out deep discounts for its audiences, especially those belonging to the education field.  

We believe education is pivotal for a society’s progress and development. Because teaching and learning are always more engaging and efficient with visuals, professors, teachers, and students can now access these resources with a special discount,” Serban Enache, Dreamstime’s CEO and co-founder, says. “Providing a safe, educational environment is crucial, but other support actions can back this.

Simultaneously, it also increases the “MUCH DESERVED” royalties of the contributors’ contributors on a significant scale.

This website’s responsible measures make us fall in love with its integrity that it has maintained for so many years.

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8. 123RF - Relentlessly Authentic Imagery

Rating: 8/10

Cost: ($25 – $35 for 10 assets a month)

Who should go for 123RF?

123RF is perfect for your “HOW-TO?” blog. All thanks to their diverse collection!

The millions of stock photos gracing their digital library will give you the “perfectly-fitting” asset for each step in your step-by-step guide. 

Look for yourself how Femina can source the most relatable set of images from 123 RF for each of the functions a Food processor can use. 

123RF is LOVED for:

  • Dramatic Vector Illustrations:
different vectors and illustrations at 123rf

The thoroughness in their royalty-free illustrations, clipart, and graphics make it all look so truthful. 

The funky and vibrant hues of the backgrounds help set a very festive mood for the entire website.

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9. Media Bakery - Bringing Your Vision to Life

Rating: 9/10

Cost: ($90 – $150 for 10 assets a month)

Why Choose Media Bakery?

Choose Media Bakery if your website is populated with visual rather than textual content, illustrating a process from scratch up to its final stage. 

Media Bakery is LOVED for:

  • Comprehensive Image Gallery

Media bakery houses realistic, high-quality images of “common household chores/recipes” in the SEQUENCE IN WHICH THEY OCCUR. 

Your next blog is about “how to hang a framed photo on a wall?”. Search for “NAIL IN-WALL,” and you will be directed to stock images search result page with images of:

  1. A drawer full of differently sized and shaped nails. (you can use it under the heading of selecting the right nail)

  2. Hammering the nail into the wall

  3. Hanging the frame using a looped thread

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10. Getty Images - Visualization of Trends

Rating: 8.5/10 

Cost: ($100 – $300 for 10 assets a month)

Why Getty Images?

Do you want to run impactful campaigns with the latest visual trends?

Look no further.

Getty Images has attained a respectable position by successfully fulfilling its promise to bring images that challenge visual stereotypes.

Getty Images is LOVED for

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

  • Clarity of Subject in Photos
bread shaped in to mobile

At Getty Images, plain backgrounds are a common find. This is done so that the subject is in focus, and no clutter in the background (in the form of patterns, objects) interrupts viewer vision. 

Final Words

Your brand’s overall visual appeal depends majorly on the strategies you employ to hunt the most relevant and useful stock images.

When it comes to designing your website, make sure to avoid the overused, ubiquitous images these websites have. It can result in poor user experience for

Take time and make wise use of keywords to get nothing but the best and uniquely creative images for your campaigns.

We hope this breakdown of free and premium websites was helpful for you.

Have you used any of these suggested websites before? Also, would you like to add any to this list? If yes, then please share the name with us, too, in the comment section below.