Keaton Michalski captures the beauty of nature through his camera and aquarium


Self-proclaimed amateur photographer, freshman Keaton Michalski, captures the beauty of nature through his very own camera lens. It started when he was young, and in the early stages of his childhood, Keaton was introduced to the art of photography by his dad. 

“When I was younger, my dad always had a camera on and took a lot of photos which got me interested in it,” Keaton said. “So my parents bought me my first camera, and I’ve really just taken off with photography.”

Camera in hand, Keaton finds a broader sense of prosperity in the natural wonders of the world. Coinciding with this, he has always had a deep passion for the outdoors and the organisms that reside within it, therefore developing a flourishing fervor for photography.

On the weekends, he travels to an assortment of parks and nature preserves statewide to indulge in the gratification of photographing wild animals. He feels a satisfying wave of exhilaration when he snaps the perfect shot, finding profound respect for nature through these endeavors. 

“It’s just so nice to be able to capture the wildlife and to get a good photo,” Keaton said. “You just get a rush of adrenaline and you’re like, ‘Yeah, I got that photo!'”

And as much as he loves to photograph nature, he also loves animals, bringing the two together as he also learns the beauty of nature through his fish.

Keaton has created his very own aquatic environment in his bedroom that contains a variety of exotic fish. For over two months, he has spent a portion of his time and money on cultivating his ideal aquarium. Keaton has even journeyed his way to uncommon locations to find the perfect attributes—more specifically, coral—to permeate his aquarium, entranced by nature’s beauty in such environments.

And, like photography, this very unique hobby and fascination with aquatic wildlife are tied to some of his family members who initially piqued his interest in the subject.

“I’ve done a lot of research and have gone hours away to coral places to learn from other people who taught me the ways of doing it,” Keaton said. “My brother has a reef business, and he’s working on a lot of aquarium stuff. He introduced me to that with my first freshwater tank, which was two years ago.”

Creating an adequate aquarium is more than just dropping a fish in a bowl of water and calling it good; as Keaton has learned, it entails a great deal of craftsmanship and care to make it a beautiful and humane spot for sea creatures to prevail.

This devotion he shows to his aquarium is also an escape, and with it, he is able to better focus on his priorities and responsibilities. The stress of schoolwork and the constant, tedious matters presented daily can be, quite frankly, exhausting, but his fish tank is a stability factor as well as a prospect of his focus to keep him going.

“I’ve gained definitely a lot more joy in what I’m doing in life,” Keaton said. “It’s been really boring lately, and [my aquarium] just gives me something to do beyond this school. It’s really become part of my routine and my main focus. I wake up thinking, ‘Okay, what can I do to benefit my tank?'”

Though there are students involved in photography at FHC, no one of similar age has shown interest like Keaton when it comes to fish keeping. As he has become well versed in both, Keaton advises a strong base of research for others, but he learned to not take it too seriously.

“Definitely do your research before you go head first into it because everything’s a learning curve, especially with the fish,” Keaton said. “But with photography, you can do it with even just a phone. You don’t need an expensive camera, and it’s always a fun hobby.”

Both of Keaton’s unusual and artistic hobbies have served as an enriching experience and as a platform for his life. Looking toward his future, he is even considering joining the biology field while pursuing photography as a side job. But, with the underlying tone of it all, these avocations provide Keaton with an earnest reverence for natural beings and a bold streak of individuality.

“I’ve just gained a lot more respect for nature [as I] see how everything lives on its own without human interference,” Keaton said. “It’s also fun to have a [fish tank] in my room and just to be proud of the work I’ve done.”