MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Longtime Hilton neighborhood resident Carl Patterson wants you to support local businesses. And he’s giving out a great incentive while participating in The Front Steps Project portrait trend, to document family life during quarantine: Patterson is offering complimentary porch portraits with the promise that families pay it forward to any SOMA business. 

“You have to promise to support a local business during this COVID-19 quarantine,” Patterson said, rather than pay him. He is working on the honor system, and suggesting buying gift cards to those businesses in the two towns that have had to close entirely, such as nail salons, barbers and hairdressers, and others deemed non-essential. But a promise to support any local business will suffice as payment, he said.

Patterson, a retired New York City corrections officer, has turned his photography hobby into a small business. And, full disclosure, he has taken many striking photos for TAPinto SOMA, including the Maplewood Municipal Building and at Maplewood’s Halloween celebration. He said portrait and landscapes are his specialty. 

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He started this project by reaching out to neighbors on his Van Ness Terrace block, and 11 out of 12 contacted agreed. He said he would love to do a block at a time in any neighborhood of Maplewood or South Orange. 

The quick sittings are timed for around 5:30 p.m. “This is the best time of day during the spring” for great diffused light for outdoor photography, he said. Patterson will stay at a safe distance while photographing his subjects, and email them a finished .jpg portrait.

Patterson can be reached at


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TAPinto SOMA is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Maplewood and South Orange Village. 

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