I don't know, of course. But it's got a very interesting story.
Sometime in the late 80's (I believe), my mother made a pilgrimage to Medugorje, Yugoslavia, where the Blessed Mother has reportedly been appearing to a group of young people daily since 1981. You can find out much about these apparations on the web, so I'll spare you the details, but tell you that my mother came back deeply convinced that this was a very blessed place. So did several friends of mine who visited there. They all witnessed a variety of mirculous events, but were impressed most with the quality of spiritual energy they encountered there.
Another person who had visited Mdugorje took many photos, and when the developed batch came back, this image of Jesus was among them (also an image of the Blessed Mother holding the child Jesus, but I can't track that one down). She has no recollection of taking such a picture from a painting, and my mother did not see any such painting there.
I have examined hundreds of images of Jesus through the years, but this seems the most realistic of all. I know of no painting this could have come from, but I am open to being corrected on this matter.
What strikes me is the expression of the mouth. Is he smiling? frowning? getting ready to kiss you? The eyes also seem to be seeing right through you. Upon close examination with image-editing software, I was struck by the color tones on the face, the lips, and even the appearance of individual hairs.
The image on the Shroud of Turin is similar to this in many ways--none of which proves anything, of course. My faith is just fine no matter if this is a photo of Jesus, or if the Shroud is a hoax.
But maybe we (especially we liberal contemplative types) need to be more open to phenomena such as this one. After all, it's good theology to affirm that he wants to communicate with us. Why not through a photo. . . and on the Internet now?
I have used this image as an icon in prayer many times. What I do is just look at the image in love, and receive its expression in my heart. This is similar to centering prayer, only one is using a sacred gaze instead of a sacred word. When you feel moved to close your eyes and rest in the loving Presence, do so.
Print out a copy, if you like, and use it yourself. It was scanned at 155 dpi, which means it will print well enough for personal use, but won't do well for commercial reproduction. I've also imbedded comments into the digital info., just to try to keep track of things.
If you have comments, questions, or experiences to share concerning this image, send them to me.
Phil St. Romain