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About Steven Foster

Steven Foster page

For more than four decades, herbalist, author and photographer, Steven Foster, has photographed and researched herbs from the Amazon rainforest to the highlands of Vietnam. Foster has over 900 photo-illustrated articles published in a wide range of media. He has served on the American Botanical Council's Board of Trustees since 1998. His photos and articles are frequently featured in HerbalGram, for which he also serves as a Contributing Editor. Steven has worked closely with ABC since its founding in 1988. 

Steven is the author, co-author, and photographer of 18 books as of 2018, including the new 2014 third edition of A Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern and Central North America (with the late James A. Duke), along with National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs (2010), and A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine (2006, with Rebecca Johnson), awarded a 2007 New York Public Library “Best of Reference.” He is senior author of three other Peterson Field Guides, including A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs (with Dr. James A. Duke), 1st and 2nd editions, 1990, 2000; A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs with Dr. Christopher Hobbs, (2002); and A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America (with Roger Caras, 1995). Other titles include Herbal Emissaries: Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West (with Prof. Yue Chongxi, 1992); Herbal Renaissance (1994); among others. He lives in the Ozarks. Foster serves as the president of the Steven Foster Group, Inc., providing consulting, editorial and stock photography services. See his website: www.stevenfoster.com.

Describing her first visit with Steven Foster in 1977, the late Harvard University botanist, Dr. Shiu Ying Hu (1908-2012), wrote, “Our conversation reminded me of something that Confucius said two thousand years ago. ‘In any company of three persons, there must be one who can be my teacher’. . . I found in Steven Foster a teacher who could share a profound knowledge of economic botany, particularly in the cultivation and uses of herbs.” In 1974, at age 17, Steven Foster, began his career at the Sabbathday Lake, Maine, Shaker Community Herb Department — America's oldest herb business, dating to 1799. There he established three acres of production gardens and managed 1700 acres for the commercial harvest of botanicals.

Artist's Statement

My artistic goal as a photographer specializing in medicinal and aromatic plants is to capture the spirit and botanical beauty-in-form using natural ambient light. As a medicinal plant specialist and photographer, my work takes me around the world. Photo equipment is ever present. In my botanical photography, color, form and design offer themselves to the observant eye at the right time of day, in shade, in rain, or with clouds hiding harsh sunlight. These are the situations I strive to work in, which give me the best color saturation, the richest light, and the greatest challenge in exposure length, depth-of-field, and waiting for that still moment when a breath of air does not move the subject and offers up the detail values that I seek. I strive to know the plants that I photograph: their names, botany, history, and human connection (use). I feel this helps to give me a special relationship to the plant as it reveals its beauty.

Selection of Books by Steven Foster and Co-authors

Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Eastern and Central North America. 3rd edition
By Steven Foster and James A. Duke
Houghton Mifflin Court, 2014

National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs
By Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog, MD and David Kiefer, MD; Photography by Steven Foster
National Geographic Books, 2010

Herbal PearlsTraditional Chinese Folk Wisdom
By Miao Wen-wei, Translated by Yue Chong-xi, Annotated by Steven Foster
Ozark Beneficial Plant Project and Boian Books LLC, 2008

A Desk References to Nature’s Medicine
By Steven Foster and Rebecca Johnson; Photography by Steven Foster
National Geographic Books, 2006.

A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs
By Steven Foster and Christopher Hobbs
Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002

The Herbal Drugstore
By Linda White, MD and Steven Foster
Rodale Press, 2000

Tyler’s Honest Herbal. 4th Edition-A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies.
By Steven Foster and Dr. Varro E. Tyler
Haworth Herbal Press, 1999

101 Medicinal Herbs
By Steven Foster; Foreword by Mark Blumenthal
Interweave Press, 1998

Herbs for Your Health
By Steven Foster
Interweave Press, 1996

Forest Pharmacy-Medicinal Plants in American Forests
By Steven Foster
Forest History Society, Duke University, 1995

A Field Guide to Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants of North America North of Mexico
By Steven Foster and Roger Caras
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1994

Herbal Renaissance-Growing, Using & Understanding Herbs in the Modern World
By Steven Foster; Foreword by Richard Evans Schultes; Preface by Shiu Ying Hu
Gibbs Smith Publisher, 1993

Herbal Emissaries-Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West
By Steven Foster and Prof. Yue Chongxi
Healing Arts Press, 1992

Echinacea-Nature’s Immune Enhancer
By Steven Foster
Healing Arts Press, 1991

Herbal Bounty-The Gentle Art of Herb Culture
By Steven Foster; Foreword by Richard Evans Schultes; Preface by Shiu Ying Hu
Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1984