Catch the zeitgeist, and stay on it.
Leo Rubinfien wrote:
As a photographer, Garry Winogrand owns the 1960s, in the special sense in which it is commonly said that Robert Frank owns the 1950s, and Walker Evans the 1930s.
These artists' photographs are distinguished by the extraordinary conjunction of a form that comes to mirror, and stand for, the dominant sensibility of a time with subjects that are the era's title symbols and events.1
More recently, Anne Higonnet wrote:
When Sally Mann started contradicting stereotypes of childhood in the late 1980s, she was like a one-woman force and everyone rightly focused on her as someone who was breaking all the rules about the representation of childhood.
As it turns out, a decade later, she is completely vindicated; she turns out to have been announcing a kind of widespread change in how people think about childhood.
Her work belongs to a very particular and crucial moment. There are many people working in that field now, but one of the things Sally Mann was up against was the claim that not only that her images were wrong, but that the subject was trivial.2
1 Rubinfien, L. (1977, December). The Man in the Crowd. Art Forum. Reprinted in Goldberg, V. (1981). Photography in print: Essays from 1816 to present. New York: Simon and Schuster.
2 Sina Najafi, Picturing Innocence: An Interview with Anne Higonnet, Cabinet Magazine, Issue 9, Winter 2002/03, http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/9/picturing_innocence.php.