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The DIY photobooth, at your service.
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shmile is a nodejs-based photobooth.

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With your digital camera, a laptop and a printer, you can have your own DIY low-cost photobooth.

Before you get started


Create your own custom overlay. Make sure it is a 4x6 crop factor, save it as a 24-bit transparent PNG. See public/images/overlay.png for an example.

It is recommended that this overlay image is 2400x1600px large.

When you are done, save your overlay resource into public/images/overlay.png.

Camera Tips

  • Mount the camera on a steady tripod.
  • It helps to set your camera on manual focus and on its lowest resolution. This reduces shutter lag time.
  • Make sure your flash is charged. If it is not, the camera will wait until the flash charges before firing the shutter, making very awkward, long pauses for your guests to be smiling.


By default, shmile does not try to print to a printer. However, should you decide to use one (I personally use a Canon CP770), it should be relatively simple to set up.

  1. Make sure your printer is set as the system default.

  2. When booting your server, be sure to supply a PRINTER=true environment variable. For example:

    $ PRINTER=true coffee


Server instance

The server is responsible for controlling the camera, and serving the Web interface that users will see. Here we assume that you already have Homebrew installed and running on your Mac.

Install node & npm
$ brew install node

Note that shmile officially supports Node v0.12, 4.2, and 5.0.

Install imagemagick
$ brew install imagemagick
Install gphoto2
$ brew install gphoto2
Install gulp, coffee-script globally (if you haven't already)
$ npm install -g gulp coffee-script
Install bower
$ npm install -g bower
Get the project running.

Go to project root. We assume that you've checked out this repo into /path/to/shmile.

$ cd /path/to/shmile
$ npm install
$ bower install
$ coffee

The server should begin running.

Configuration variables

  • PRINTER=true causes shmile to queue up a print job to your default printer as soon as a photo session is complete.
  • STUB_CAMERA=true allows you to not use the camera control interface. You should only need this feature when you are actually developing on shmile.

Control view

This is a Web browser that displays the camera control interface, and shows the visitor the real-time creation of the image. For simple deployments, this can simply be on the same computer that is running the server.

  1. Navigate to localhost:3000 in a evergreen Web browser (Chrome and Safari latest recommended).
  2. If you want to use an iPad to display this interface, you'll need to have the laptop and iPad connected to the same network. Open Safari on iPad, and type in <computer-name>:3000 to the Address Bar. Tap the Go To button in the Safari bar, and save the app to your home screen (see:
  3. On your iPad Home Screen, open the "shmile" app you've just created.

Gallery view

This is a Web browser instance that displays a view of all the generated images taken so far.

  1. With the server already running on another browser instance, visit http://localhost:3000/gallery (or <server_address>:3000/gallery if you're connecting over a network)
  2. If you're viewing on iPad, open the site in Safari, then save it as a Home Screen app as detailed above. Open the "gallery!" app from your home screen.
  3. You should see a touchable, swipeable list of images that have already been taken. As photos are taken, the new images will be pushed to this Web view in the background.

Note: this is currently buggy and will not work if you don't have any images taken yet. Visit this view when a few photos have been generated.


  • This was developed for OS X. I cannot help you if you're attempting to run on Windows or Linux distributions.
  • Note that the PTPCamera daemon boots up whenever you plug in your camera. Running a killall PTPCamera will do the trick. Shmile automatically runs this command for you when you boot up.

Contributing to shmile

Submit a PR to this repository. Make sure you explain what your PR is doing and appropriate test coverage is in place.


If you're looking for the source to the JS frontend, you'll find it at the shmile-ui repository.

Developing shmile without requiring a camera module

When developing on shmile, it helps to decouple the camera subsystem from the UI so you can test end-to-end without the camera. To this end, you can supply a STUB_CAMERA=true environment variable. A stub camera will substitute for the gphoto2 backend.


Shmile in action




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