Chuck Ashley Memorial Photography Scholarship Fund

In July 2011 CoDA established a memorial scholarship fund in photographer Charles Ashley’s name, soon after his death in June 2011. The scholarship is aimed at helping students interested in photography to buy equipment, pay for internship fees or tuitions for a school or class of their choice. CoDA also offers in-house training on digital photography, digitization of printed photographs, archiving, and publishing practices.

Charles Ashley’s passion for photography never diminished until his very last days. This scholarship, created with the agreement of Charles’ family, is a way of keeping his legacy alive, and pay recognition to him for the great photographer and dedicated teacher that he always was.

Contact us to donate to this particular scholarship. Any amount is much appreciated.

CoDA is a 501(c)3 California Not-For-Profit Corporation. All donations are tax deductible.

The total amount of received donations for this program is:




Charles Wilcoxson Ashley, Jr. 1923-2011

Husband, father, photographer and teacher, Charles W. Ashley, Jr. died on June 30, 2011 with both his sons at his side. Chuck, as he was always called, was characterized by his patience, dry humor, meticulous technique and inventiveness. His long career as a commercial photographer segued into teaching, for which he was ideally suited. His talent for making friends stayed with him throughout his life. Everyone who knew him was aware of his deep love for and pride in his family.

Born in Springfield, Ohio to parents Charles & Mary Ashley, he was close to his older sisters Mary & Dorothy. After graduation from Springfield High School in 1942, he rebuilt ships in Hawaii in the wake of Pearl Harbor, which led to Navy experience in radio communications and electrical engineering. A persistent desire to be a photographer brought him to New York to attend the School of Modern Photography, where he discovered his natural talent with a camera. In the early 1950’s, his first professional jobs assisting New York photographers Romeo Franconi and Philip Stearns gave him experience in studio lighting and working with the likes of Suzy Parker. Marriage to Sheila Franklin in 1955 brought him two daughters and led to a move to Northern California (the couple divorced in 1964), where he would live, work and raise his family for the rest of his life. His marriage to Angela Monroe in 1966 produced two sons.

His career as a commercial photographer spanned 40 years, mostly in San Francisco and Sausalito. During his 25 years working alongside Fred Lyon, he created distinctive images for publications like House & Garden. Lyon says Ashley’s diverse skills, sense of humor and fearlessness saw them through a gamut of adventures. Ashley’s older son Michael, CTO here at CoDA, says his father had an “instinctual attitude about light” which made his light meter superfluous and that his technical knowledge was such that a battered Nikkormat camera, marked with pink nail polish to adjust for its timing quirks, could produce images to rival almost any photographer’s using superior equipment. Ashley’s four children remember his ingenious darkroom inventions which agitated developer baths, quick-dried negatives, or aided dodging and burning with odd shapes on sticks while he printed black and white images; simple, practical solutions which he built because he could.

At the end of his association with Lyon, Ashley worked for his own commercial photography clients like Heath Ceramics and EvaWare and did carpentry before becoming a near-legendary photography instructor at City College of San Francisco for 15 years who challenged the school administration in order to serve his students. He originated the Large Format Studio Photography Class which many of his students took multiple times in order to fully absorb his expertise. Former students mention his “MacGyver toolbox” with which he could solve any problem or create any desired effect. He was known for his generosity, lending his own photographic equipment to encourage his students to pursue their own work, and for his loyalty; many of his students became friends of his long after classes had ended.


One comment

  1. John Toupin says:

    Chuck was a wonderful photography instructor and practicing professional photographer that I had the good fortune to study with many years ago. He would do anything to help you as long as you were willing to work. Chuck and Morrie Camhi were the best of the best that City College had to offer. I just wish that Chuck Ashley had been recognized as the treasure that he was to the admin. at SF City Col.
    Chuck’s student’s knew it and we will forever be thankful.


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