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Matt Magruder
Art Director, HerbalGram & the American Botanical Council
January 17, 2022

Over the weekend of January 15th, the herbal medicine community lost an icon.

These are some photographs I made in April 2016 when I attended a photography workshop led by Steven Foster. We were at the regenerative farm and resort Finca Luna Nueva in the Costa Rican jungle. I’ve never been much of a macro photographer, but I was excited to explore a new creative arena with someone I respected and admired.

It was a wonderful trip. I’m sharing these photos of mine to honor his legacy and share how he contributed to my own creativity and exploration of a new form of photographic expression.

I’ve been the art director at the American Botanical Council and HerbalGram magazine for more than 15 years and Steven Foster has been a fundamentally important part of both the magazine and the organization. His wisdom and contributions spread throughout ABC’s breadth.

His astoundingly masterful plant photography has graced at least 10 pages of every single issue I’ve put together and sometimes even more. In the more than 50 issues I’ve worked on, he’s written seminal articles on the history of botanical adulteration and saw palmetto trade, lady’s slipper orchid conservation, ginseng adulteration, and medicinal trees. Those are just the ones I can recall offhand right now and there were countless others prior to my tenure at ABC and HerbalGram.

He contributed articles to the magazine; performed editorial and technical reviewing; and, most importantly, fact-checked me on taxonomic accuracy. His generosity knew no bounds and my experience of him was just a sliver of what he contributed to this world, the herbal community, and his family. I feel honored to have known him for more than 15 years and even more so for being able to call him a friend.

He was a self-described “curmudgeon” — a feeling I resonate with — but I could tell he loved his family and community. I’ll miss my talks with him and wish we could share another dram of single malt scotch. 

The last photo is of Steven on a hike in the jungle surrounding Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. He always looked so happy with a full backpack, tripod, and camera on his chest.