This trend is focused on making space for consumers to breathe and reconnect in a cluttered marketplace, engaging our emotions and spirit with visual haiku.

Subtle, epic, restrained, powerful. These are images that tell their stories quietly and succinctly, but create maximum impact. The ‘less-is-more’ approach to composition and color, and the use of comparative scale subtly draw you in. And then you make the visual connections and you’re hit with the punch line. The images feel passive because of their use of space—they allow your eyes to breathe, but they offer deliberate and controlled messages in a world cluttered with visual noise.

This trend takes its cue from the 1950s and ‘60s minimalist art movement that focused on refined expression and the distillation of complex ideas into elegant simplicity.

On a surface level, the imagery is direct and uncomplicated. It aims to engage our emotions and spirit with a clean and clear message, like a visual haiku. The negative space and streamlined elements can act as vehicles for other forms of graphic communication, such as type or illustration.

The viewer gets hooked and the story unfolds. This can take place in the observer’s mind or the design elements can control where we end up.

As an overstimulated society, we instinctively welcome the calmness of this trend. It’s a visual respite that deliberately works as a contrast to the increasing digital noise in our lives. Stillness captured, call it the edited version, but it makes us take notice, focus and think. The viewer concentrates on the single message or concept, since all interference and unnecessary information is removed.

All these ingredients make this trend designer friendly. Apple built an entire brand on a minimalist approach, from its logo to its product design, and this simplicity is cleverly echoed in the award-winning iPhone 6 campaign in a series of stunning but tranquil images. Other brands such as Emirates, HSBC and Oakley have created campaigns using epic spaces and single objects or people as a focus. These campaigns resonate because we let our guard down and respond to the spirit of imagery. The authenticity is in the emotional engagement with the image. It also means it doesn’t feel like a hard sell, we don’t feel like we’re being preached to or preyed upon. We allow ourselves to be more open and receptive.

It’s a visual respite that deliberately works as a contrast to the increasing digital noise in our lives.

We often see the trend for minimalism influencing social media and photo-sharing services like Instagram. That’s because it’s a natural reaction to the world around us, to make sense of it and to simplify it, to let the beauty speak for itself.

In our increasingly digital worlds, there is a growing interest in leading a less complicated and cluttered existence, and that can mean visually, too.

See which keywords have risen in Getty Images search data that have helped define the Silence vs. Noise trend:


Explore more powerful imagery inspired by the Silence vs. Noise trend at Getty Images