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. Jim Deaver says:

    In the 1960s Phillip discarded his previous excellent portraiture to pursue a vision
    of Fine Art Portraiture. His study of classic portraits by artists of the past led him to create a “NEW” style of photographic portraiture.

    His dedication created a style and category of timeless portraiture admired and desired by many. This vision resulted in an entirely fresh concept.

    Classic portraits by Charis are valued by his many clients and emulated by photographers. The style he has created will influence photographers for years.

    We are privileged to stand on the shoulders of giants like Phillip Stewart Charis!

    Rest in peace.
    Jim & Theda Deaver

  2. I was fortunate to be at your house when Mr. Charis was printing Jessica’s wedding portrait. The joy that beamed from him was infections and gave me goose bumps. The love he had for you, his family, radiated from his heart when he spoke.
    Not only was he the most talented man I ever new, he was humble, kind and generous. My life is better to have know such a man. I’m privileged and honored that I knew him.
    I will genuinely miss him.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love always,
    Carol McArtney

  3. Dear Maryanne and family you and the magnificent Mr. Charis have been a part of our lives from the birth of our first child in 1978 to the present. Phillip captured the youth and beauty of those early days . . . the joy of a new baby and even, over the years, the grace of aging that now marks us as having lived. A dozen portraits later, our home and family are cast in the beautiful light that he shone on us really forever. We bless his talent and his wonderful sunny disposition which coaxed us all to respond to his lens. Thank you for including us and our portraits on so many walls over the decades. He is already missed but his work is enduring.
    William and Paige Baker

  4. Victoria Mal says:

    Remembering Phillip Stewart Charis,his voice, his manner, his dedication to the arts, the support he gave to photographers by just being near and listening, his dedication to the arts, the twinkle in his eyes when watching people not catching on to a joke, his close friendships, his mentoring, his patience and his leaving the room or a subject or a disagreement or his changing the subject before he became agitated. The memory that brings me a smile when thinking about Mr. Charis is his coaching me at the blackjack table, saying: “Just one more deal and you may have enough for a down payment on an apartment.” He will be missed and I feel fortunate to have known him – a great man. My sympathy and love to you Mrs. Charis – Victoria Mal

  5. My condolences to Maryanne and the entire family. Phillip Stewart Charis will be missed by many. As a professional photographer, I will always particularly remember his kindness, his compassion, his passion for his work and how he created what he created and his giving nature towards our profession. He was a generous man and a mentor to many artists coming behind him. Thank you forever….and Godspeed to his beautiful soul. I am sure that he is off creating beauty somewhere…already!
    Lia Segerblom

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