Women's Health (Malaysia) - - CONTENT - By Amylia Hilda

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.”

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