I absolutely love photos that feature confetti! They are super fun and if you shoot wide open, there's some gorgeous bokeh that will make me melt right out of my chair so believe me, I get it. It's in, it's trendy, and it's an exciting addition to a portrait session!
But here's the thing: confetti without clean up is littering. And you know what littering is?
Few things make my heart sigh more than showing up to a gorgeous location only to see glitter and confetti scattered everywhere... and let me tell you - it happens way too often. Another thing to consider is that more and more places are adding restrictions daily. Locations are now requiring permits while others are completely ruling out professional photography and I know a lot of it has to do with the damage that people are doing during their sessions that ruins it for everyone else.
And look, I was one of those photographers once. I think about it often and it makes me cringe because one of my earliest favorite sessions included confetti and none of us cleaned it up. We left it to blow in the wind and end up God knows where and I am NOT proud of that in the slightest.
What if I told you there were other options!?
It doesn't have to be only glitter, confetti, or nothing! There are many options you can use instead of standard confetti and I am excited to talk about them because this is something I'm becoming adamant about!
Honestly, one of the best ways to get around using confetti or glitter, in my opinion, is to hole punch leaves and use those! Bonus points if you bring your hole punch to the session and use leaves from the location in which you are shooting! This is the best way to add in that confetti feel without bringing anything extra to the environment and in a way, you're still following the No Trace Rule because nothing comes in and nothing goes out. I like to carry a heart shaped hole punch in my camera bag and that way, if we decide we want to add in some confetti, I can make some up quickly and honestly - a little goes a long way. It may sound time consuming, but really, it takes maybe a minute and you have some all-natural confetti ready to go!
If you just can't get the vision of real confetti out of your mind, you can at least opt for a biodegradable option. Though these get pricey quickly, they are made from biodegradable FSC paper that can be composted. Just one thing to be aware of - while a product may be advertised as biodegradable, if there is a sheen or shine to it, there is a chance that they used metal flakes and not mica, making the product not biodegradable. So just be sure to keep an eye out for how the items are made and do your research! It's well worth it in the end!
Brittany Lynn Imagery LLC
If a touch of color is what you're looking for, flower petals might be the option that works best for you! You can find flowers at almost any store and depending on their selection, you can create an entire rainbow of petals to throw and play with during your session! The best part is that you know for sure that what you're using will go right back to the earth and for me, that is the best part of it.
ProTip: Use the flowers as a prop for the first half of the session and then use the petals for confetti at the end!
Photo: Upsplash Dried herbs could be used as another plant-based alternative. While fresh flower petals will be a bit heavier and more controlled, dried herbs (or even dried flowers!) will be lighter and will go further and float more sporadically. Also, it's worth mentioning that they can be purchased for little to nothing at the grocery store in the form or oregano, bay leaves, or almost anything along those lines. Granted, if you're shopping kitchen herbs, I would keep expectations low for color but you could also add in some lavender, chamomile, calendula, rose petals, or other dried herbs or florals.
ProTip: Whichever dried herbs you decide to go with, be sure to check and see whether or not they are hazardous to wildlife. There's some conflicting information about Parsley (Spring Parsley to be specific) that suggests it is potentially hazardous to dogs, leading to seizures and confusion. Just be sure to research your options and you'll come up with the perfect, beautiful mix for your session!
Photo: Upsplash Don't want a mess to clean up? Overlays have your back! Etsy has lots and that's just one place - there are TONS of overlay options out there and they are super easy to use! I love them because I don't have to spend any extra time after a session cleaning and compared to the prices of biodegradable confetti, these are INSANELY inexpensive! I have purchased them for as little as $4.00 for 30 - can I get a "Heck yes"!?
Photo: Upsplash Fine, real confetti or glitter it is. Then bust out that vacuum and clean it up! Plain and simple. No one should leave until your area looks EXACTLY as you found it. Unless, of course, someone else left a trashy mess - then you should do the right thing and clean that up as well. Leaving a mess of a location IS NOT OKAY. Let me repeat: IT IS NOT OKAY.
When you leave a mess, you are increasing the likelihood of this location being closed off to yourself and other photographers. Plus, you should never want your business name to be associated with trashing locations and running off without any responsibility. It's disrespectful and believe me, news gets around fast. If the venue doesn't shut photographers out completely, I'd be willing to bet you aren't welcome back. If a friend came over and pouyred glitter all over your living room and then left, would you invite them back? Me neither!
Okay, so before the positives, I gotta list the negative: BUGS. If you're shooting outdoors and don't want ants all over you, skip this one. This option will melt away eventually but in a worst case scenario situation, it is better than metallic glitter. I insist that you make a point to clean this up. Even if the bugs don't bother you, they bother others and if you're shooting in a public place, be considerate (or you run the chance of ruining it for the rest of us!).
Now, for the studio, this is perfect! Cleanup is still rough - glitter is worse - but at least you don't have to worry about anyone eating it (hey there, babies and toddlers). But seriously, clean it all up because those bugs will find it, even if it's inside!
So there you have it - some of my favorite ideas for confetti alternatives! Please, feel free to add to this list if you know of some other great options for keeping confetti and glitter messes to a minimum!!