Sorry for late reply. I usually shoot sweet 16 events and the occasion birthday, baptism, small events. I did my first wedding two weeks ago. For the sweet 16 I always use backdrop and have Speedotron brown line with umbrellas. For the smaller events, unless requested I don't use backdrop. For outdoor I use umbrella with speedlite or just natural light depending. I am interested in portrait photography as well as baby/maternity photography (father to be, which is why I am intersted, lol). The speedlite (when too hot, does take a bit longer to cycle) I have, it drains the batteries quickly and rarely go past 1/2 power or 1/4 power. I use energizer batteries (12) and eneloop batteries (8) rechargeable.
Perhaps you are right and probably just buying into the whole equipment craze as that is mostly I see on many youtube videos I look at for tutorials. Well not all of course, but the ones I look at do mention them. Probably don't give much credit to myself but do consider myself an amateur. I don't do this for a living but mostly as side gigs.
Due to lack of experience/practice, makes me think I need "better" equipment to help me. One area I struggle is when trying to do portrait. I use softbox with speedlite on light stand. I have been interested in hss, perhaps if I knew how to properly use my equipment to achieve hss look (is this correct terminology?) when applicable, wouldn't have the "urge" to get equipment listed above. Again, due to lack of experience/practice, I feel "restricted". Plus don't have much "models" to work with. Offered free sessions to family and a few friends to get practice but no bites. I haven't tried TFP in a while as hace had models be too picky/demanding/unreliable (who hasn't right), so somewhat trying to stay away but may be the only way to get practice though.
Do you mind if I ask what equipment you have?