Fundamentally... new gear is only important when it's holding your vision back but also new equipment brings about new opportunities. Spotting and taking advantage of those opportunities can give you a business boost. Or it can give you nothing.
Very well said
The gear vs. technique debate is a touchy subject indeed. The "it's not about equipment, it's all about technique" remark is thrown around so often that it's become cliche. I dislike blanket statements and generalizations, but while there's some truth to that old cliche, I don't agree with it entirely.
IMHO, at the beginner level, it's 99% technique and 1% equipment. An experienced pro with a point-and-shoot will easily produce better images than the typical soccer mom with a Rebel. At the pro level, it's still mostly about technique, but I'd say that equipment becomes more important, since those that lack basic photography skills have already been weeded out. It's tough to put a number on it. For pros, perhaps its 90% technique and 10% equipment, or 80% technique and 20% equipment, but any working photog with any dignity will strive to push the envelope and eventually hit the limits of their equipment. These days, the limits of equipment are extremely high, but it doesn't mean they don't exist.
I'm not much of a NBA fan, but I've noticed photogs are now rigging cameras up behind the backboard, and triggering them remotely to create a unique perspective as players battle up near the rim. How on earth would this be possible without today's technology? Now sports shooters can cover a game from multiple angles simultaneously without cloning themselves
Likewise, for portraits, the combination of ETTL technology, radio triggers, and high-speed sync flash guns has opened the door to creative effects that were once difficult, if not impossible to pull off. Furthermore, back in the day before autofocus was invented, motorsports photographers would zone focus at one particular part of the track, fire off a bunch of frames as a car approached, and hope that the timing of one of the frames happened to coincide with when a car crossed the focal plane. Every now and then you'd get a good shot, but most of them were soft piles of junk. Those are just a few examples that come to mind, and this post is already running long.
Just because you can get a shot with lesser gear doesn't mean it's always practical, especially when there's the all-important time invested vs. revenue earned metric that everyone running a business must deal with. Soooo, while the "gear doesn't matter, it's all about technique" cliche is true most of the time, to say that equipment never matters isn't entirely accurate.