Taken on 20th January, 2009 in Harlem Armory, Manhattan, New York City. Nikon D90, Exposure 1/125, Aperture f/5.6, Focal Length 18mm, ISO Speed 800. Show on Flickr.

At this Obama inauguration celebration in Harlem I faced my main challenge with portrait photography: engaging with the people in my photographs.

Whereas the photographer captured here positively pounces at his subjects, even in this willing crowd of revelers I am timid and inclined to keep a "safe" distance, perhaps to the detriment of my images.

Is it simply a matter of practice and confidence? Is it a natural evolution to strive towards this kind of vigorous engagement with characters in my photographs? Or is it an alternative approach?

There's no simple answer here. I think I can learn a lot from photographers like this, about how to become more immersed in scenes rather than always simply existing on the edge looking in, but also about directions I don't personally want to go in. For example, although not without exception, I would prefer to take pictures where subjects aren't responding directly to the camera but where I am well positioned to pick up on their responses to other events.