I had realized it’s not so much the artist, designer or architect that decides the style of an era, but the conditions, the societies that these creatives are working in.
Some person may be a natural born architect. But what the buildings actually look like is much more dictated by the times than by the individual. The same guy working under Louis XIV would build different things than, say, in the mid-century-modern era – which I call the Keynes-Era.
Style is of course just one aspect of life. But it’s the first thing you realize that is changing between eras. And we see much more than skirt lengths in fashion photos. We see if women wore veils or burkas in the mid-east in 1958.
Photos transport moods, especially in everyday, real life scenes – by professional photographers as well as hobbyists. And the attention which hobbies themselves do get in the media, does also say something about a culture.
A picture says more than a thousand words. Many of these words are about the life, the people, the conditions, few about the creators. The director who understands that, like Jean-Luc Godard, has a greater chance to shape an era than the one with a more individualistic theme, say Woody Allen.