Famous photographer shares research on historical cloth

Renowned photographer Barrie Schwortz spoke to students on Monday in the Little Theatre about his decades-long research on the Shroud of Turin, a centuries-old cloth with an image of a crucified man believed to be Jesus of Nazareth.

For Barrie Schwortz, he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to be the documenting photographer of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project team.

As a young adult, Schwortz was a self-employed commercial illustrator, and most of his work focused on advertising, editorial illustrations, magazines illustrations, etc.

An opportunity to be a photographic consultant on a project with Los Alamos National Laboratories opened his interest in the Shroud. He was told that scientists at Los Alamos and SANDIA Laboratories had taken a photo of the Shroud that was taken in 1931, and were able to see the natural relief of human form through raising the image into 3D space. With the question of how this was possible in mind, Schwortz was among many people who were asked to join a team to do research on it.

Schwortz turned the opportunity down at first. The only thing that really kept him interested were the properties of the image. With the push from team member Donald Lynn, Schwortz joined the team. He often questioned what he was really doing on it though. He had little knowledge of Jesus and his crucifixion.

“Go to Turin and do the best job that you can do. God doesn’t tell us in advance what the plan is, but one day you’ll know,” Lynn had told him.

After five years and a short trip to Turin, Schwortz did not feel finished after the STURP had ended. He wasn’t convinced that the Shroud was authentic, and so for 17 years after the trip to Turin, he continued to do research. When the last piece of evidence came in that proved it had to be real, he knew he had to share it.

His inspiration to build his website, www.shroud.com, came from friends, and tabloids stating that the Shroud was a painting. It was then that he started to realize what his real purpose was on that team.

Schwortz stated that he didn’t feel weird sharing all of his information, because to him, he felt obligated to do so.

“There are a billion people on this planet that had more of right to be in that room than I did, and I was the one put there. For who? Not for me. The website was a way of reaching out and making that information freely available to everybody.”

“I had a long career of all kind of work, but that work came and it went and it’s gone,” he said.”But the Shroud lives on well beyond me and it so it becomes my legacy. And that’s like a gift from God.”