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Meme boothinator

Meme booth is a service for creating and easily sharing "meme pics" based on real pics you take. You can also use it for example as selfie booth or red carpet cam with just minor modifications.

Prototype of Meme booth Setting up Meme booth View from Meme booth

Meme booth was originally developed for the #snapshot exhibition by the Finnish Museum of Photography. It's easily adaptable for other purposes, such as:

  • selfie booth
  • welcome on board camera
  • party camera
  • red carpet camera

We have an online demo! Try making a meme yourself.

Check out Usage ideas below.


  • Camera
  • Display
  • Launch mechanism (some kind of button or keyboard)
  • Computer
  • Casing (optional)

The minimal setup is any laptop with a web camera, running a modern browser, such as Chrome>31 or Firefox>33.

Usage ideas

Originally meme booth was created as a part of an interactive experience at the #snapshot exhibition. The idea of the whole work was to give visitors an experience on what happens to your images in social media and in the internet. Meme booth particular tried to introduce the concept of memes to visitors and explain that every image may become a meme. Images taken with meme booth were send straight to twitter (see @snapshotNowMeme).

We also used it at our huge office party, to allow people to snap a visual memento of the occasion. The idea was to lift the party spirit with it.

We'd like to see this used in schools, institutions and wherever you find a use for it! Not by the NSA. By changing meme texts to logos or other icons you can modify meme booth to different situations.

All you need is a laptop and a few hours - or you could make it a bit more ambitious school project, encompassing some design, programming and manufacturing elements.

School Box

This is not your average school project. Imagine the joy in the children's faces when they get their own meme booth running and start creating their own memes. The Internet culture is spreading everywhere and because of that, this an interesting project that the kids will surely be into.

The school project would ideally have two phases. First the students would need to build the actual physical booth. This phase could be a great joint project for example with the woodworking class. The second phase is installing and setting up the software.

The booth will be password protected by default so you don't have to worry about it being misused by the students.

Beware that for some parts of the application (AWS and Heroku) you have to give your credit card information, so make sure there is one available before starting the project. Both AWS and Heroku are free for first year. If you feel uncomfortable in including students in a project involving credit cards, you can of course install the software yourself and just allow the students to access it via the browser. However, in that case, process of setting up a web application will remain a mystery to the students.

Allowing students to use the meme booth will not expose credit card details, or allow incurring additional charges. AWS storage is charged by usage.

Technology used

Meme booth was build using node.js with express. The metadata of the images is saved to mongodb. In the frontend side bacon.js, hogan and webcam.js should be mentioned. The images taken will be saved to Amazons S3. In our setup, the software was pushed to Heroku and as a database we had the Heroku add-on mongolab.

Installation instructions


You need to have git installed.

If you want to run meme booth on your local machine, you need to install Node.js.


First register to GitHub.

After registering, fork the project from this page to your own GitHub account. You can find more information about what forking really is from here.

Clone the forked project to your own machine. You can find help for cloning a project from here.

Next up is to set up all the external services that the application uses.


Register to Heroku.

Follow instructions on setting the application up on heroku from here.

For your own configurations, you have to set environment variables for the application. You can do this easily in your application's dashboard. You can find more information about setting environment variables in Heroku from here.

Set a username and a password for your application. This prevents others from seeing the photographs and adding their own images. You have to set two environment variables for that:

  • USERNAME: Your username
  • PASSWORD: Your password


We recommend that you use the MongoLab add-on in Heroku to store the data. MongoLab provides an easy set up and good monitoring for the database. You can find more information about setting up MongoLab from here. MongoLab is free for first 500MB of metadata (enough for over 100k photographs).

MongoLab sets MONGOLAB_URI automatically. If you need to override automatically set URI, you can set MONGOLAB_URI environment variable.

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 is used to store the static files in the application. For the connection, meme booth uses the Knox client.

Amazon offers a free tier to be used for a year and you can register for it here. Even with free tier usage, credit card is required. After first year, data usage is automatically charged. During first year, usage exceeding free tier - several thousand photographs - will be automatically charged from credit card.

After registering to the service, you have to obtain the necessary keys and tokens for meme booth to be able to connect to AWS (Amazon Web Services). You can find information about where to obtain the keys from here.

You also have to create a bucket for your S3 instance. You can find more information about creating a bucket from here.

You have to set three environment variables for your application:

  • KNOX_KEY: S3 key
  • KNOX_SECRET: S3 secret
  • KNOX_BUCKET: Bucket's name, which was created previously
  • KNOX_REGION: Region name (if not us-standard-1)

Twitter (optional)

It's also possible to publish your memes to Twitter automatically.

First you have to create an account for Twitter. You have to get API keys and tokens for the application so that it's authorized to post to Twitter.

You have to add four environment variables for your application:

  • TWITTER_CONSUMER_KEY: Consumer key
  • TWITTER_CONSUMER_SECRET: Consumer secret
  • TWITTER_TOKEN_SECRET: Token secret

Deploying the application to Heroku

If you have followed the Heroku options in the instructions, you should have everything set up correctly. Now you can deploy the application with the command: git push heroku master.

At this point, you should be able to open your Heroku instance in your browser and start taking snapshots.

The URL's for the site:

  • /filter : shows the camera with meme filters
  • /memes : shows list of taken memes
  • / : shows the camera. Press space to take a photograph!
  • /photos : shows list of taken photos

If you run into some problems during the installation, don't hesitate to contact us at

If you encounter a problem and find a solution for it, please submit a pull request describing the problem and the solution.

Running the application locally

If for some reason you don't want to run the application on Heroku - for example, for development or testing - it is possible to run it locally. When using Heroku, this step is not necessary.

Install the dependancies locally by running the command: npm install

Create a file called .env where you can store your local environment variables. An example of the file looks like this:


Then you can run the application with the command: foreman start


You can contact us by email at

If you want to now more about the #snapshot exhibition, you can contact Risto Sarvas by email at


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