The most common photography question I get is: "do I need better equipment to make better photos?". It's probably one of the most loaded questions you can ask about photography. Those with really expensive equipment will say yes; those with inexpensive equipment will say no.
As a studio owner, I spend a lot of time viewing all sources of photography. Along the way, I have seen photos taken with a free cell phone that I would hang in my home. Of course the opposite is true where I've seen photos taken with a $10,000 camera body that made me cringe. The key is to separate art from technical capabilities.
Anyone can go to a camera store and buy a 70-300mm zoom lens for $200 and take great photos. But most are puzzled when they look at the 70-200mm lens next to it on the shelf and see that it costs $2,500. Why is this the case? After all, the cheaper lens goes up to 300mm and brings subjects closer. Isn't that "better"?
The quick answer is no. The pro level lens can handle many situation that the other can't. In simple terms it comes down to the light it can take in, the speed at which it can focus, and the sharpness it can produce (there are, of course, many other technical reasons I won't bore you with).
The same can be said for a camera body. High end bodies have so many bells and whistles that the average person would never need to use. But when the time comes where I need that certain bell or whistle, I am VERY happy that it's there. The situations we encounter as a studio sometimes call for specialized equipment. Shooting a wedding from a back of a dark cathedral, or maybe a product shot with a very tight focus, or even a baseball player swinging a bat will have very different results depending on the equipment we use.
So what do we say when people ask for advice? Start slow. Don't spend a lot of money on a camera or lens because you think you will be a better photographer. As you travel down the road, one of two things will happen: You will either have that camera forever and create art that you love, or you will slowly start to find yourself in situations where your equipment can't handle what you want to do. Only then do you need to consider better equipment. Most importantly, if the 1975 Polaroid camera you use produces photos that make you or someone else smile, then it is doing its job. Art is only about emotion. It is not technical. It is not about equipment. It has nothing to do with megapixels, f-stops or frames per second.
One of my favorite photographers is not a photographer by trade, and the only work I've ever seen from her is through Instagram (@aliciacraw). Why do I like her work? For the simple reason that it makes me smile. That has nothing to do with equipment.
So...does equipment matter? Only from a very technical point of view. In terms of art...nope.