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Lily Stewart, 12, looks on as her father and Oklahoma University photography professor Todd Stewart shows a picture to Carla Dodson during rehearsals for the annual Holy City Easter Pageant. Todd Stewart is photographing the pageant and the Holy City for a project on Southwest Oklahoma.

Photographer captures pageant images

The Holy City of the Wichitas museum is getting an update thanks to the dedication of a long-time visitor.

"The museum has this wonderful collection of photographs that were made in the '40s as part of the promotional material for the film shot there," said Todd Stewart, a professor of photography at the University of Oklahoma. "They made me begin to think about maybe doing a contemporary version of that with photos from the pageant today."

When Stewart first moved to Oklahoma in 2004, he became fascinated by the Wichita Mountains. He said there was something about the intersection of so many different elements  the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, the Holy City of the Wichitas, Fort Sill, the buffalo and other aspects  that really intrigued him. He decided several years ago he wanted to use Southwest Oklahoma as part of one of his long-term photography projects. But work and other issues always got in the way  until this year.

"This was the first year that I really followed through with what I've been talking about for a while," he said. "I reached out to pageant director Alan Corrales and a couple other board members with an e-mail explaining what I was interested in doing and why. They were kind enough to invite me to come down and take photographs."

Stewart has chronicled every aspect of almost every rehearsal this year  from its beginning in early March through the first performance last Saturday. He works behind the scenes, taking hundreds of photos of the city itself, the actors and the work that goes into performing the pageant every year. If plans come to fruition, tonight will be the first time Stewart actually gets to sit down and enjoy the pageant in its entirety.

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