What is Butterfly Lighting

Horace He

Last Updated: October 16, 2023

What is Butterfly Lighting

Butterfly lighting, also known as paramount lighting, is a lighting pattern commonly used in portrait photography. This technique involves positioning the main light source above and in line with the subject’s face and the camera. The term “butterfly” refers to the distinctive shadow that is created under the subject’s nose, resembling the shape of a butterfly.

By placing the key light in this manner, a dramatic shadow is cast under the subject’s nose and chin, adding depth and dimension to the portrait. This lighting pattern is often favored for its ability to create a flattering and glamorous effect on the subject’s features.

The term “Paramount lighting” is used interchangeably with butterfly lighting, as it is associated with the Hollywood studio and their use of this technique to illuminate their most beautiful actresses. This lighting style has been widely used in the industry for many years and continues to be a popular choice among portrait photographers.

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