Phillip Stewart Charis

Phillip Stewart Charis

July 13, 1927 - June 21, 2015

Phillip Stewart Charis

July 13, 1927 - June 21, 2015


Photographic world mourns the loss of legendary portrait photographer,
Phillip Stewart Charis
1927 – 2015

A career spanning over 60 years, Phillip Stewart Charis, M. Photog. Cr., F-ASP, FIBP, ARPS, has made a lasting impression on the photographic world. As a master craftsman, Charis had a unique approach to his work and was known for his formal photographic portraiture that challenged fine-art painting. He has carried on the traditions of painters like Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Sargent. The Charis atmosphere is like a signature .. the mood, the style, the very rhythm, reminds you of elegance in the grand manner. There is an eagerness for life, the immediate moment and the memories behind it that suddenly became most important. This is the moment that must be captured, and the time is now.

Influencing many photographers around the world, Charis’ work is known and his lectures were highlights at various conventions and gatherings. Charis’ career spanned many revolutions in photography including black and white to color to digital. He embraced the technological advances and utilized the tools available to create a perfect portrait, pleasing to the creator, the subject and the viewer. Charis’ awards are many and attest to the esteem in which he is held by his fellow craftsmen: Master of Photography with the Professional Photographers of America, Associate in the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, Fellow in the Institute of British Photographers and Member of Camera Craftsman of America. In August 1970, Charis was the first recipient of the Fellowship Award of American Society Photographers.

To quote the late Robert Sobieszek, former curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “Charis’ work will stand the test of time. Historians of the future will look back on the tradition of the grand manner of portraiture that started with Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, and continued through Sargent and Charis.”

Charis portraits may be seen in some of the most distinguished collections including the Los Angeles Museum of Art and private homes throughout the world. His clients know and appreciate fine portraiture and have traveled from all over the world to have a life-size portrait made by Charis. Among some of his most celebrated subjects are Chuck Henry, Mrs. Ronald Reagan, Michael Landon, Steve Allen, Red Skelton, Joan Collins, Candace Bergen, Lynn Redgrave, Duke Kahanamoku, former Mayor Tom Bradley and the families of Henry Mancini, Richard Dreyfuss and Lou Ferrigno.

In the words of Phillip Stewart Charis, “People still want to see and to remember. They want time to stand still in some instances or to be recalled in every detail. They want to remember the good and the beautiful, the charming and the delightful, the loveable and the kindly. Loved ones grow up, leave. Parents grow old and forget. At times all that is left is a picture and a memory.”

Phillip Stewart Charis passed away Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 7:36 a.m. He is survived by his wife, Maryanne Charis, 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. The Celebration of Life will be held at Charis Studios and Fine Art Gallery located at 27184 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, California on Thursday, July 9 from 6 – 9 p.m. and is open to the public.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Phillip Stewart Charis to the Photography Department at Bowers Museum in Orange County California (—General-Donation), the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (, California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside (

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19 responses to Phillip Stewart Charis

  1. Jack Randall says:

    I had the pleasure of photographing his grand daughters wedding a few years back and I remember thinking to my self as I was working that it felt like trying to preach a sermon with Billy Graham in the room. I must say though he was a true gentleman and one that I respect thoroughly as the best at what he did in the world and he did not have an ounce of arrogance. I will miss Phillip and his beautiful art as well!

    Jack Randall

  2. Don Peach says:

    Probably the greatest time of my life was working for Mr. Charis. I learned a lot about what it takes to achieve excellence. He often said” We are not going to the corner store, we’re going to the moon”. He is missed in the art world.
    I sure he’s hanging out with the artists he admired.

    Don Peach

  3. I worked for Phil and Maryanne from 1981 to 1984 when he was based in Pasadena. I will always remember them as hardworking entrepreneurs. They taught me so much and I will be forever grateful for the experience . . . Say hello to Gainsborough Phil!

  4. My wife and I will always remember our photography session with the legendary “Charis”. We were newly weds and so excited that Philip would be taking our portrait. Now, nearly 40 years later, we look at our portrait, my young, beautiful wife I treasure, a moment in time, captured in Charis’ Pasadena Studio. Unfortunately, a move and storage issue caused some damage to our treasure, but the beauty of Charis still comes through.

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