At EyeEm, we’re on a mission to showcase new and exciting talents in photography – and that includes calling out topics that could benefit from their fresh perspectives.

We’ve long had a problem with the way “love” is depicted with photography. Particularly around Valentine’s Day, you see photos laden with clichés: Close-ups of smiling couples holding hands, silhouettes before a sunset, or hearts drawn into the beach sand.

These pictures are fairly one-dimensional: They focus just on simple affection, even though love is much more real, intense, or even painful than those pictures suggest. Also, having been shown for years, these images no longer carry any meaning, and consequently fail to connect with viewers. That’s why we’ve put together a collection of photos for you. They picture love through the eyes of emerging photographers, taking a new look on this old emotion. And we’ve put together this handy guide to help you choose love pictures that correspond to reality.

Be Less Obvious

Photography isn’t just depiction of reality: It’s also an interpretation of it, and the best photographers are those who don’t just show a motif, but reveal a message through it. Simple example? There’s no need to show only couples or their happy faces when representing love. Instead, show something that sparks a viewer’s curiosity.

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By Kirk Tang

City Lights people bokeh cityscapes city lights Nightphotography Night Lights urban urban landscape girl guy switzerland Basel Colors building Overnight Success Finding New Frontiers Market Bestsellers 2017
By Rafael

Be Daring

I mentioned that heart drawn into the sand earlier. It’s such a boring representation of love because it uses the least possible bit of abstraction. A heart is universally understood, but it doesn’t invite associations. And that’s why it’s a squandered opportunity: Photos are uniquely able to invoking emotions and associations. Be a little brave with photography and you’re guaranteed to catch much more attention.

pomegranate background berry fruit close up close-up Dessert food foodphotography Freshness fruit fruits groceries healthy eating healthy food indoors Juice juicy fruit no people organic pomegranate ready-to-eat Red ripe vegan
By Oliver Helbig

food Food and Drink indoors close-up Freshness group of objects Red pink color retail girl girls leeps sexygirl sexyselfie lesbian lesbians sky relax chill Road Body & Fitness fashionable lifestyles Hello world Love
By Андрей Андреев

Be Diverse

Love takes many forms. Why only represent it with straight couples? You can also select photos that are vague enough to play into everyone’s own definition of love.

By El-Taher Alfy

Adult Adults Only beauty close-up Couple Couples❤❤❤ desire full frame heterosexual couple Love love ♥ Lovers people touching
By Piotr Marciński

Be (a Little) Retro

Film aesthetics are all the rage at the moment. Luckily, its unreal colors, subtle grain, and rich blurs also pair well with the emotional abstraction of love. Use film photography as an artful way to depict love – all while eschewing the postcard perfectionism everyone is so tired of.

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By Leni

You can license all of these images on EyeEm right now – or browse our selection of love images for more.

Header image by @clairdelune.