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Invoicing in a flash: New York photographer shares his experience using QuickBooks Money

There are many noteworthy photographers in the United States whose photographs are never seen by the masses; but Jeremy Cohen, who describes himself as a commercial photographer, is one whose work you might recognize. He photographed the cover of New York magazine for the March 2020-April 2020 issue, showing a man with a double-bass cello, playing alone on his roof. 

“This was at the height of the pandemic in New York, when it was considered the epicenter of the world,” Cohen explains. “It was just starting to get nice out, after a long New York winter. Times were dark and uncertain, but when I looked out my window I saw people going up to their roofs doing the things that they love to do, whether it was music or some sport or some sort of art. And I would just photograph it. And just like that, I was starting to photograph this new body of work.” That series was published in New York magazine—a highlight in Cohen’s burgeoning career. 

Having discovered his fascination with photography at an early age, Cohen went to the School of Visual Arts New York City, where he studied photography and found work in the industry for the first time. “While I was in school, to make money, I didn't want to get some random job. I wanted to do it in the field of photography,” he says. “I realized I could do that by being an assistant.”

A lot of photographers, Cohen explains, need assistants on shoots. Especially portrait photographers, which is what interested him most. “There's a lot of carrying gear, setting up lights, setting up the background, et cetera. I sent a cold email to a hundred photographers, saying, ‘Hey, I'm Jeremy, I'm a student at SVA, I have this skill set in lighting, et cetera.’ From there, I got a couple of responses and ended up working for a couple different photographers and started making a little bit of money that way.”

The more Cohen worked and studied, the more his confidence grew. “After a couple of years, when I graduated college, I started to get some gigs,” he says. At the time, he was still mainly assisting other photographers, but that began to change. “I slowly transitioned to where I wasn't assisting anymore. And ever since I started working as a full-time photographer [in 2015] I've been steadily increasing my income.”

Today, Cohen has a variety of revenue streams—a combination of his photography, videography, consulting, branded content, and social media (376K followers on Instagram, 1.2M followers on TikTok). To manage his finances and keep a close eye on the business side of his creative work, Cohen uses QuickBooks Money. 

The financial side of creative solopreneurship

Thinking back to when he first started using QuickBooks, Cohen says his decision was largely based on recommendations from other business owners and creatives. “I asked around because I have friends that are in similar [solopreneur-type] businesses, and they recommended QuickBooks. I was familiar with the name, so I downloaded it and haven't looked back since.”

Initially, Cohen started with QuickBooks Self-Employed to help him manage his bookkeeping. Now, he uses that alongside QuickBooks Money, which gives him tools for money management, including business banking, accepting payments, and cash flow tracking.

One of the aspects Cohen likes about QuickBooks Money is that it echoes his own business ideals, allowing him to operate at a higher level for his clients. “I pride myself on being reliable,” he says. “Whether that means showing up for a shoot, handing in a project [on time], or just responding to an email.” 

That sort of reliability often demands specific tools—ones QuickBooks Money can provide. “Sometimes I'm not with my laptop for a while and a client asks for an invoice. I don't want to send it to them the next day.” Instead, Cohen uses the QuickBooks Money app to complete the invoice on his phone. He adds his customer and sends it over. “It's honestly just simple,” he says. “The best things in life are simple.”

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Before QuickBooks, I was scrambling every time I needed to make an invoice. I would stress out about it.

Cohen says that QuickBooks’ invoicing is one of his favorite features. “Before QuickBooks, I was scrambling every time I needed to make an invoice. I would stress out about it,” he says, remembering the PDF he’d have to manually change for each client. Now, Cohen’s client information is saved in one place, so invoices are a breeze to fill out. Plus, when his clients are ready to pay, they can do so with virtually any medium, from PayPal to debit or credit card to ACH deposit or even Venmo. 

“That’s one of my favorite features about QuickBooks,” he says. “My clients get my invoice through email, and the PDF is attached at the bottom. They just click on how they want to pay and it's up to them, which makes it super efficient and convenient.”

Beyond invoicing, Cohen says he really just appreciates the organization and transparency he gets from QuickBooks Money. “QuickBooks Money makes it so easy to see my cash flow,” he says. “It’s straight up on the home screen. I can check it by month, quarter, and year and just keep up with what's happening.”

Before QuickBooks, Cohen says he was the kind of entrepreneur who didn’t keep a close eye on his finances. “I had no idea how much money I was making. I was just focused on shooting and didn't have anything organized,” he says. “I finally started an official business, and then I also got QuickBooks, and I was pretty surprised how easy it was.” Now, Cohen’s able to see where he stands financially from month to month and year to year. 

Cohen says he appreciates that if he ever gets to the point where he wants to hire someone to help manage the financial side of his business, QuickBooks remains a source of financial truth. “You can trust Quickbooks. The numbers don't lie,” he says. 

When asked what advice he’d give to other business owners, and specifically solopreneurs, Cohen says, “I think just in general, invest in yourself and in your business. If you could spend your money on something that will help your business work, run more efficiently, and be less of a headache so you can focus on your actual craft, I would say it's a hundred percent worth it.”

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What’s next for photographer Jeremy Cohen?

With 1.2 million followers on TikTok and 376,000 on Instagram, Cohen has made a name for himself on social media. Part of that, of course, is the quality of his work. Another part is understanding how best to display it for social media—a characteristic called “social native.” 

“Traditional film or photography is horizontal,” he explains. “But on social media, everything takes up more real estate if it's vertical.” When he’s working with other brands, Cohen says he keeps this quality in mind, among others. “I'd say ‘social native’ videos have a good hook at the beginning. They’re fast paced and walk a happy medium between something that doesn’t feel like an ad, but also is an ad native to the app.” Cohen’s clients want their content to feel seamless, blending in with other content on social media. It’s Cohen’s job to make that goal a reality.

One of the qualities that helps Cohen succeed in this role is his open mindedness toward changing technology. “There's so much changing in the world, in photography, and in social media,” he says. “New apps coming out, new trends, new gear, new features, AI. The way I see it is you could either kind of be annoyed by it and not want to try it out and just stay doing your own thing. Or you could be a little open-minded and be like, ‘How can I use this in my workflow? Can this benefit me at all? Let me try this out, even if I don't think it's that cool.’”

Cohen says his next goal is to shoot another project, sort of like the one he did during the early days of the pandemic. “I love shooting projects,” he says. “I think that what differentiates mediocre photographers from good photographers is being able to tell a story with a series of photos. Anyone, if you're in the right place at the right time, can take a good photo. Which is great. But I think the photographers that I look up to are photographers who can tell a story with a series of images about a certain subject or subculture.”

Right now, Cohen is on the hunt for that next project. He’s just finished shooting a 400-page coffee table book documenting 150 different mom-and-pop shops around New York. With any luck, it’ll shine an even brighter light on the talent of each small business owner. He’s ripe for a new idea. “I think in the future, I want to document—tell a story—that's very important to me through either the medium of a video or a photo project, and would love to come out with a photo book or have my own gallery or something along those lines,” he says. “That'd be really cool.”

Intuit is a technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by our partner, Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC.

**Product Information:

QuickBooks Money: QuickBooks Money is a standalone Intuit offering that includes QuickBooks Payments and QuickBooks Checking. Intuit accounts are subject to eligibility criteria, credit, and application approval. Banking services provided by and the QuickBooks Visa® Debit Card is issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license from Visa U.S.A., Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association. QuickBooks Checking Deposit Account Agreement applies. Banking services and debit card opening are subject to identity verification and approval by Green Dot Bank. Money movement services are provided by Intuit Payments Inc., licensed as a Money Transmitter by the New York State Department of Financial Services. For more information about Intuit Payments' money transmission licenses, please visit https://www.intuit.com/legal/licenses/payment-licenses/.

Cash flow planner: Cash flow planning is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only. Actual results may vary.

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