New in Client Delivery: Anonymous Downloads

New in Client Delivery: Anonymous Downloads

You need complete control over how clients interact with your content. That means the power to decide who can see and download what. 

But it’s not always about gating your work and setting specific permissions for specific clients. Sometimes, you need a way to eliminate roadblocks so anyone can download your images as quickly and easily as possible. 

You can already grant download permissions for your PhotoShelter galleries via login or password, but over the years many of you have requested an “open permission” option. Today we’re excited to bring you anonymous downloads.

Anonymous downloads means 100% friction-free client delivery. It lets you assign open download permissions for anyone — no passwords, no logins, no barriers. And just like the gated access options, you have full control over the download size and format. It’s simple, fast and still all on your own terms.

Let’s say you’re a sports photographer and you want to provide photos to all the athletes and attendees of a recent tournament. After you’re done shooting and editing, you upload everything into a public gallery, then grant JPEG – original size downloads for Anyone. The athletes and attendees already have your site URL from the tournament, so they’re able to access the images quickly. Checking your download log for activity is a breeze and you won’t have to worry about anyone logging into an account or messing up a password. You look great, your clients are happy, and that’s a win any way you slice it. 

This workflow is great for sports, events, weddings, you name it. At the end of the day, it’s all about making things as simple as possible for your clients — whether you need to restrict access or open it up for everyone. Let us know how you plan to use anonymous downloads in the comments below!  

To learn more about how the anonymous downloads permission works, head to our Support Center or get in touch at

Note: Anonymous downloads open up some really important workflow possibilities, but with great power comes great responsibility. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Currently, you won’t want to enable anonymous downloads on a gallery with any other type of password or login permission because it will override those settings. If you need to grant download permissions via password or login on a gallery that also has anonymous downloads enabled, we recommend making a second gallery or using the Quick Send tool. 
  • Anonymous downloads only work on galleries with a visibility setting of Everyone. If you enable anonymous downloads on a gallery with a visibility of Those with permission, the visibility will automatically switch to Everyone. 

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This article was written by

Caitlyn Edwards is the Senior Customer Marketing Manager at PhotoShelter. Passionate about visual storytelling and ethics, she covers photo news, events and offers educational tips.

There are 19 comments for this article
  1. Dan at 12:33 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong here. You cannot password protected a gallery, and then allow anonymous downloads of the images inside it?

    Surely this is the exact thing that people want to be able to do?!

    We want to create a password protected gallery and put it on our “client gallery” page. Then tell our client, “you can find your gallery there, the password is “dog”, once inside you can download whatever you want.”

    Surely I’m not alone in wanting this? This is how so many other gallery services work!

    I’m so confused how you ended up with this half-solution. I was SO freaking excited for this feature, waited years, and somehow it’s still not designed in an intuitive way that, I swear, is how most people are going to want to use it.

    • Caitlyn Edwards Author at 1:12 pm

      Hey Dan, sorry for any confusion here! What you’re describing sounds like how our existing password feature already works. In this example, you’d set the gallery visibility to “Those with permission”, then choose the password option, enter “dog” as your password and grant your preferred download type. Then, anyone with the password can navigate to the gallery on your site, enter in the password and download the images. With the new anonymous downloads permission, you’d just be removing the password from the equation. If you like, our support team can help ensure you set things up correctly for your needs. Just get in touch at

    • Caitlyn Edwards Author at 1:28 pm

      This works for Listed and Unlisted galleries, so if you want to have a hidden gallery with the everyone permission, that’s best done with an Unlisted gallery. Just be sure to give your client the direct gallery link and they’re good to go. (Without the link, no one will be able to find the gallery on your site.)

  2. Clark at 3:53 pm

    “Let us know how you plan to use anonymous downloads in the comments below! ”

    I’m going to be a boomer and say no freaking way would I use this feature. Yes, this is great for PhotoShelter if they are going after the MWC, PWC, hobbyists, dentist wives and trust fund babies who don’t use photography to earn a living. Bravo!

    But then again, why would someone pay $30 a month to give away their photos for free when they could just use Google Drive or Dropbox for nothing?

    Assuming that the majority of the members of this service engage in photography as livelihood either part or full-time – after all this isn’t SmugMug or SnapFish – I really believe PhotoShelter needs to focus on more features to help professional photographers generate revenue, not on giving away their work. If member photographers are generating more revenue through their PhotoShelter sites, PhotoShelter will generate more revenue, which will make the board and creditors all as happy as New England clams.

    A much cooler announcement would have been revamping the coupon code system so that codes could be restricted for use selected pricing profiles instead global on any product in the users account. This way the 50% off coupon I send to clients can be used only on digital files and with not packages or print orders, too.

    My goodness, I would be jumping up and down for joy sharing the enthusiasm if you announced that users would finally have the ability to copy the text in metadata fields, like the caption field for example, in File Flow so you don’t have retype the again when sharing an image on social media.

    Or may be adding/upgrading open graph code to gallery and image pages so the image appear in tweets and on Facebook.

    When there are so many other tiny tweaks that could be done that would be boon for members, anonymous login is not a win, no matter how you slice it (or in this case try to talk it up) for professionals.

    • Grover Sanschagrin at 4:08 pm

      PhotoShelter is a service that many different types of photographers use. Believe it or not, this is an often-requested feature. Making it easy for clients to download images from an assignment was our goal. Requiring our users’ clients to set up an account with PhotoShelter was a barrier too great for many.

      That is now solved.

      With that said, we are busy working on the rest of the items listed on our roadmap. Hopefully a few of them will make you happy. (It’s a long list.)

    • Scott at 4:24 pm

      Clark, you have listed a bunch of ideas for improvements to Photoshelter, so I know you have an imagination. So please use that imagination to conjure a scenario in which anonymous downloads would be a boon to us working professional photographers. Here’s an easy one: Imagine an company hires you to shoot photos of all the folks at their annual holiday party, and they want all their employees to be able to download the photos. They pay you to shoot the photos, you charge a fair price, and you enable anonymous downloads because in this case, your revenue is coming entirely from the assignment fee, not piecemeal from individual downloads. You’re not leaving money on the table because the company would never agree to you charging their employees for the photo downloads, the value for that service is already reflected in your assignment fee. See? Easy win.

    • Jessica at 8:36 am

      Exactly what Scott said – I shoot dozens of events throughout the year, where I’m paid well by the organization, but want/need to make images available either to multiple people within that organization or to attendees. I don’t need to know who downloads them (since it’s a gallery they can only get to via the link I send, and not particularly sensitive content anyway), and they don’t want additional barriers to download. There’s no potential to make additional money from these events, and the clients love when I can make it easy for them. I’m super excited about this functionality – I’ve been an off and on PhotoShelter for over a decade now, and will be returning to use them for my event coverage now that this is possible. Obviously, there’s a giant list of other features we all want, but I’m thrilled this one came so quickly, and look forward to the rest!

    • Ilan at 1:01 am

      As a stock photographer I couldn’t agree more with Clark
      For years I have been using Photoshelter with endless promises but zero actual improvements (support video?)
      Anyhow, hopefully this drive of new features and improvements recently announced will be helpful for stock photographers as well

    • Maria at 9:20 am

      Yes. I agree with you Clark. I’m not using this feature either.
      There are so many other tweaks that would be helpful (Client calendar, schedule capacity…).

  3. Nigel KIng at 3:16 am

    Fantastic news! I run my event photography business on a ‘Shoot and share’ model. I get paid to shoot as much as I can – and share everything with the client and the attendees. In my experience (15 years shooting events) here is no money in chasing reprints or paid downloads. This makes everything so much easier.

  4. Mike at 6:22 am

    I get lots of requests from footballers for low-res pictures which I’m usually happy to provide, but a lot of them don’t find the password system very user friendly when it comes to downloading stuff from PS. Excellent work.

  5. Dave at 12:37 pm

    This is a feature, not a default. Make use of it where it fits your needs or don’t. Not every photographer works under the same circumstances.
    Having been a PhotoShelter user since since near the beginning I appreciate the work they have done on behalf of photographers and the industry. This is a feature I asked Grover about quite a few years ago. His response, I believe, driven by the desire to maximize photographers’ marketing and revenue generating prospects was not so favorable to the concept. Time heals all things.
    No doubt photographers that do event work can benefit from the removal of barriers to delivery but I am excited by this for another reason. Over the past several years I have embarked on a second career as a communications director for one the largest school districts in the country and a county education agency. In both places, I brought PhotoShelter into the organizations to manage the visual archive. As public entities, the work we create for the organization is public record. This feature makes the sharing of our work simpler while increasing transparency. That is a big win for us.
    Thank you PS.

  6. Jeff Becker at 1:20 pm

    I tried it. It gave me the false impression that I could download larger files than what I uploaded, since I uploaded images that are 1500 pixels on the long side. That could get people in real trouble if clients think that they are getting large files, but the images are not really the size that they selected. IMO just telling people to beware wouldn’t be a good enough resolution for this issue.

  7. Donna Werner at 2:08 pm

    My first reaction was similar to Dans and Clarks- then it hit me- there are sessions I am paid for in advance and no more revenue will come of it, and their are other sessions, such as editorial or documentary that I self funded and need to sell to editors / or perhaps participants after the fact.

    Prepaid event or studio session vs UNpaid gigs/assignments/protest rally shot as editorial that I will shop around afterwards or to multiple outlets/clients.

  8. Kevin Berry at 9:34 am

    I believe what Dan is saying and I agree with is, I want to share certain folders with models I have shot, no one else, just the models. The models don’t have time, or don’t want to create an account with their email address, so they don’t bother.

    However, what you have created is a link without a password to allow someone to download whatever they want depending on what download type is selected.
    What I want and I assume Dan wants, is to have a way of sharing a link with a model and also a password, that way you can be safe in the knowledge that someone is not going to stumble across the open page and/or if images do circulate via the method I mentioned I would at least know the model shared the password.

  9. Jonathan at 7:45 am

    Frustratingly this doesn’t achieve what I really need! I want to be able allow anyone to download watermarked comps from a gallery. Even allowing those with a password to download watermarked comps would be an improvement on the current situation. But as far as I can tell the only way for anyone to be able to download watermarked comps is if they are logged into an account.
    And that’s leaving aside the really useful feature that I’ve been asking for for many years which is to be able to offer a watermarked file size larger than 500px which is a totally outdated size these days.

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