I wasn't talking about B&W vs. Colour (although I used that as an illustration)
nor about tradition versus non-tradition
nor about the need (or not) of being uniquely "original"
It was simpler (I think) than that - the problem is more like working within a tradition when you either don't realise it, or you don't have a very good idea of where that tradition stands right now.
I'm not saying working within a tradition is a problem (and I don't think Christian was saying that either?) - far from it.
Rather, it can become problematic to be "working within a tradition" while not recognizing that the tradition has perhaps become moribund and rather hidebound and possibly reached something of a dead while at the same time thinking - and to some extent being encouraged to think - that it is still new and fresh and cutting edge.
Which I am starting to feel is the case with a lot of what Christian broadly labeled as Contemporary American Color Photography. A lot of what is currently Top of the Pops in galleries and museums and the latest monographs and certainly on the internet (and yes, on blogs like this) is in many cases now some fairly limited variations on a theme whereby "Most photographers working in this genre are pursuing aesthetics and concerns that were initiated in the 1970s, and have changed very little over the past thirty years."
Sometimes (though not always by any means) as you look around at it, it's become almost as formulaic as a Zone aficionado's photos of Half-Dome. In a way the New Color has actually become Old Color, but nobody really wants to say that too loudly - rather like ageing rock and rollers.
So, I think it's very much about awareness of where one stands in relation to the work that's gone before - and your own context within that.
Now, when it came back to my own work that I cited as a personal example - Traces - my decision to use black and white rather than color wasn't based on trying to somehow step outside the current tradition and avoid it, but rather that in retrospect, part of what went into making that decision (and only one part of it) was probably the realization that among lots of other things, the colour experiments I did resembled an awful lot of what I see in the galleries, museums, monographs and especially what crosses my screen here - some of it hyped as the next great thing - yet with not an awful lot to distinguish it from what has gone before since Eggleston and Shore and Ghirri in the early 70's.
Yes, there is lots of very good work among it - and it's exciting to find it. But in the end, I didn’t feel what I could do in colour in seeing this place would be able to measure up to that (and I very much do enjoy doing colour work). I felt that I could certainly do more in B&W - but whether that's ultimately the case isn't my call though.