I've been a professional photographer for 20 years and have taught photography at both the high school and college levels. My specialty, for the past 15 years, has been equine photography for magazines, websites, books, etc. I've always told my students that you can enjoy many kinds of photography but make sure you choose a genre in which to specialize. It helps pay the bills.
I have always used Canon equipment. Currently I use a Canon 5D with a 10D backup body, a couple of longer Canon USM-L series lenses, a couple of short lenses, a Canon EX flash, and a Canon 2x converter. I have studio lighting but rarely trot it out of the barn. I prefer natural light.
I love Nikon equipment but happened to have started with Canon and just stayed the course.
I'm enjoying the stretch that food photography offers me. I should probably purchase a true macro lens but haven't gotten around to it.
As to my photographic philosophy, I always tell my students that there is enough light out there for everyone to capture. Just shoot what you like, and be sure to stretch a bit. Don't play it safe and always shoot more than you think you need. It will improve your skills and that extra frame or two might astound you!