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

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  1. From time to time in life you meet someone and they become an instant friend. That is the case with me and Phillip Charis.

    I met Phillip and Maryanne about 7 years ago and loved them instantly.

    When I married my wonderful wife in 2013, Phillip did our engagement portrait and had our wedding photographed. We found what many people had known for decades, Phillip was a world class photographer and a world class gentleman.

    Not only will his wife, family and friends miss him but the world will miss that amazing talent he had to put life into a still photograph.

    Joan and I will always cherish the time we had with Phillip.

    Our engagement photograph, hanging in our living room, will always remind us that Phillip is watching and asking us to “Smile with our eyes”.

    Rest well my friend. We will take care of Maryanne.

    Phillip Schwartze and Joan Saunders

  2. athena says:

    Lit a candle in memory of Phillip Stewart Charis

  3. george allan says:

    To Mrs. Charis ,
    My deepest condolences , you and your family are in my prayers.

    Mr.Charis will always be by highest most respected hero, most respect I have for another individual. We shared a year in 2002 in SJC and Dallas, times I will always cherish .
    You will always be in my heart and prayers,
    Rest Peacefully My Friend!

    George Allan

  4. Alta Lemus says:

    Athena, I’m sorry for your loss. I worked with your dad and he was an amazing person and loved you very much!

  5. Mrs. Charis and family,
    So very sad for your loss, for everyone’s loss. He was a visionary and ahead of his time, always on the cutting edge of technology never fearing being outdated, but welcoming change and always keeping the true art of his craft in the forefront, sharing with anyone who wanted to learn. Grateful for my time with him, personally being trained and mentored by the ultimate master in my book. He is already missed. Peace be with you and your family Mrs. Charis.
    “Smile with your eyes”
    Debbie Landry

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