WHAT MEN THINK
Visual creator, Ismael Ma shows his favourite place to (literally) hangout.
Ismael Ma apologises profusely for arriving late for our photoshoot at Camp5 in 1 Utama Shopping Centre due to an unexpected, lastminute request at work but it’s difficult not to forgive him— he’s sincere, warm, friendly and down-to-earth.
The 26-year-old used to be a regular at Camp5, Asia’s largest indoor climbing gym, because “it’s not just a fullbody workout that you get from here; it’s the community that makes it fun because you find yourself pushing your limits, not just due to your own mental and physical strengths, but because of the constant encouragement of the people around you. Also, climbers are just generally super chilled and you meet people from all walks of life.”
As he strikes a few poses for the camera, it’s obvious that Ma has talent both in front and behind the lens. His Instagram feed is filled with beautiful landscape shots. “People often ask me if I travel for work, but the sad truth is, not yet,” he says. “What I post on my social media are usually pictures from personal trips and nothing from work.”
He mentions that his most memorable travel experience so far was to Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia. “We hiked through different types of vegetation at different altitudes and experienced pouring rain, cold temperatures, clear night skies and, of course, the everso-familiar scorching hot sun!” he says enthusiastically.
“Needless to say, I’ve snapped photos in all sorts of weather, and the best has to be a starry night sky after a long day of hiking. It’s just so beautiful to see.”
Taking great photos in isolated spots usually requires a long trek while lugging a camera and heavy equipment in tow, so how does Ma keep his fitness levels up? “I rotate between football, futsal, hiking, flag football, running and climbing,” he says.
But where did this passion for photography come from? “I got my first digital camera from my brother-in-law just before
I went to Egypt for a yearlong student exchange programme,” he recalls. “That was when I realised that I loved to document my travels visually.”
He adds that he wants his work to speak for him. “I want to do a project to help educate the public about issues that the world is facing like global warming, deforestation and animal conservation. I hope to hold an exhibition one day, or even open a gallery. Dreams can never be too big, right?” he says with a smile.
But Ma admits that there are times when you need to know when to put the camera down. “Sometimes, it’s important to not be so worried about the best shot because you just need to indulge all your senses in the beauty that nature has to offer and take advantage of the moment.”
As for his love life, it’s no secret that Ma is dating former Miss Universe Malaysia, Vanessa Tevi (although they prefer to keep their romance under the radar). He credits her with being a constant source of motivation for him and what he does. So what’s an ideal date night like for the couple? “We’ll go out for some good food, and then I guess it depends on the mood, but we’re usually happy with a good conversation, a good movie or retreating to a spot with great city views. Alternatively, it could be an active date, like a hike or rock climbing,” Ma says.
When asked what he finds attractive in a woman, he replies, “A confident woman can achieve anything, and there’s nothing sexier than having a self-assured, driven woman by my side, with an awesome sense of humour.”