January–February 2022


Freeze Frames

Richard Hamilton Smith’s winter water lily photos offer a unique look at the aquatic plant.

In Minnesota, the leaves of water lilies tend to die off or grow sparse before lakes and ponds ice over. But sometimes, in just the right conditions, a full-size lily pad will freeze in place, anchored to its rootstalk in a state of icy purgatory. That’s when Richard Hamilton Smith grabs his camera and hits the lakes around his home in Hubbard County.  

“I’ve been a fan of lily pads for a long time, no matter the season,” says the photographer. “But there is something special about adding the dynamics of ice as a photographic element.”

According to Smith, the aesthetic characteristics of frozen water—the cracks and bubbles, the variety of shapes, its reflective and refractive properties—form “a recipe of delight for a photographer.”
In this visual essay, ice plays the additional role of custom framer and curator, displaying lily pads in a chilly outdoor gallery.