Freelance photographer, Hannah Isted, talks about why being an ESSA Individual Member is so important to her and her thriving business.

What do you do and what’s involved in your day-to-day?

I am a freelance photographer working heavily in design, build and architecture. My work takes me to various locations in the UK and internationally.

A significant portion of my time is spent in the office editing projects and liaising with clients. Interestingly, I have clients that I have worked with for many years, yet we've only interacted through voice calls and email. While I am present at numerous events, it's rare that my schedule aligns with the clients and their teams, and this is one of the reasons I decided to become an ESSA member. Despite having forged some wonderful friendships throughout my profession, the nature of freelance work can sometimes lead to a sense of isolation, limiting opportunities to truly get to know and collaborate closely with a team.


What encouraged you to become an ESSA Individual member?

It’s a great way to stay current with legislation and the many changes we all face. It also provides a much better understanding of the problems and challenges our clients face as it offers inside knowledge so that we can sing from the same hymn sheet.

I think it's incredibly important to understand all the various roles you are likely to come across and work alongside so that you can pre-empt issues that may affect your client or that may prevent you from achieving your best work. I find this industry can often have a domino effect so it's important to position yourself well so as not to unbalance everyone else.

Additionally, ESSA has a growing amount of information on working in the EU which is regularly updated and which I find invaluable.


What do you enjoy most about being an ESSA Individual member?

I always thoroughly enjoy the In The Rough charity golf day and would join ESSA just for that!

Being part of ESSA gives me a chance to see what's coming, for instance changes with laws, venues, legislation, industry updates and shows moving location etc.  As a freelance photographer, I can often be at the bottom of the information chain, so ESSA membership is a crucial lifeline with regards to gaining access to business-critical information.

It also offers invaluable networking opportunities and it’s wonderful to see members from different working backgrounds come together and work as a team.


What would you say to those considering becoming an Individual ESSA member?

As a freelancer, I often rely on a single point of contact, and if that person transitions, it can lead to communication challenges. The ESSA community and Zoom meetings provide a face and a personal touch ensuring you're not just a name in an email chain whilst also ensuring we are kept up to date. When you're self-employed, it’s often hard to find the time to address problems within your work environment. ESSA gives you a larger voice with the support and backing of a like-minded community. Even though I'm a chatty person onsite, I have found that ESSA opened up my working community significantly offsite.

The ESSA community provides an honest environment where targets are set by the members and ESSA pushes hard to help its members to achieve these targets as well as  meet member wants and needs.

Besides anything else, it’s so informative and the people are lovely!



Who is the ESSA Individual Membership for?

It is for sole director/employee businesses such as freelance designers, ops, crew or individual sub-contractors.

What are the benefits?

  • Access to the latest industry information, guidance and updates to laws and legislation.
  • Company details are included in the ESSA member directory hosted on ESSA’s website.  
  • Invitations to ESSA’s annual events (AGM, Summer Event, Conference & Awards) and to regular monthly member Zoom calls, all of which offer fantastic networking opportunities and access to a supportive, like-minded community.
  • Access to comprehensive training courses such as health and safety and sustainability
  • ESSA’s Individual logo
  • Access to a free premium member helpline to answer any HR, legal, health & safety, tax and VAT queries.


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The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) is a trade body representing the very best contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the UK’s thriving events industry.

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