Butterfly lighting is named after the shape of the shadow it creates under the subject’s nose that resembles a butterfly. The light is created by placing your main light above and centered over the model’s face. Here are Hannah Couzens' 4 steps on how to create the popular Hollywood lighting yourself.
Step 1: Mount a RFi Softbox to the Profoto D2 or other Profoto flash and connect the air remote to the camera.
Step 2: Position the flash in front of your model.
Step 3: Raise the flash up so that you begin to see the shadows appear under the nose, chin and cheekbones.
Step 4: Find a good position for when the shadow falls halfway under the nose and between the upper lip.
Use a room with white walls, they act as reflectors to fill in the shadows making for a shot with definition but not too much contrast.
Be careful not to raise the light too high otherwise you may lose the catchlight in the eye and create a distracting nose shadow on the lip.
Did you know that the light pattern got its name from the butterfly shape of the shadow created under the nose? Have a look above!