RooM the Agency on Life in the Stock World and Why Authenticity Sells
RooM the Agency is the brainchild of stock industry veterans who realized there’s always room in the market for high-quality images. We checked in with the agency’s chief connector, Marianne Winther, to learn more about how RooM curates their collection, what resonates with clients, and where the stock world is headed next.
“We formed RooM because we felt there was a gap in the market,” says Marianne. “Microstock royalty-free and subscription models had supplanted traditional royalty-free as the go-to solution for clients on a budget. But we felt that a lot of the microstock lacked a bit of authenticity. So we set up RooM as an authentic, high-end, royalty-free collection.”
One of the keys to RooM’s success is their commitment to consistently excellent stock images. To build their portfolio, the team scours the internet for talented artists whose work shows genuine engagement in places like Instagram. “We like to believe we have an eye for great content,” says Marianne. “Our editors have worked at many of the biggest agencies in the world, so we have a wealth of experience and expertise when it comes to knowing which images to accept.” Their photographers range from hobbyists to professionals, and the agency offers them all support to grow their skills.
While choosing the right pieces for the collection is a combination of instinct and science, Marianne says that one key is to make sure images feel authentic and true. The best performing images aren’t confined to a specific style or subject, but they do tend to have a special something.
“One thing that always stands out is that our best-selling images are in some way unique. Images have their moments — their 15 minutes of fame, as Andy Warhol put it. It has always fascinated us that an image can be popular for a period and becomes instantly unpopular the next. Why is that? It’s often down to changes in fashion,” Marianne says.
Of course, stock that taps into fashions and bigger cultural movements is always in demand. Marianne told us that RooM is tracking one of the big trends we reported earlier this year — a growing market for images that celebrate the natural world.
“The last 10 years have been tough for a lot of people globally, and when things get tough because of financial restraints or the pressures of modern city life, people always look to nature,” says Marianne. “Nature is great for the soul — it also helps replenish our energies. That’s why clients like to use natural images in their promotions.”
RooM also shapes its content with an eye toward marketing trends among the top 3,000 global brands. “Right now, most of them are trying to portray a feeling of cooperation. It’s about getting across the feeling that they are listening. Soft colors, delicate tones, mutual benefit, sustainability, and participation are all trends that we are seeing.”
In addition, RooM tracks trends through Curation Zone, an AI-driven crowdsourcing filmmaker discovery channel which was created by RooM’s founder, Russell Glenister. They’ve analyzed over 2 million videos for insight. “One theme we’re following is conflict,” says Marianne. “We are all becoming a bit conflicted and this is showing through not only in video, but also the catwalks of 2019. This will likely manifest itself in photography in lots of ways, including the conflict of soft and hard, and light and dark.”
Marianne’s advice for creatives who want to succeed is to keep building your skills and honing your own unique style. Even though the market for stock changes, visual communication will continue to be one of the most meaningful ways to deliver messages — so there will always be a market for amazing stock. Marianne suggests sticking with photography, but also getting into video — a corner of the industry where she predicts plenty of growth in coming years.