I've often heard that comment. People don't mean to be hurtful, but it is offending. Would you tell a chef that he must have a great stove? No, you wouldn't.
Good photography is just like good cuisine: several elements come together. Yes, having a decent camera and lenses are needed, but the person holding the camera also needs to know what he/she is doing, by posing the subject in the most flattering manner and being able to make a connection.
I have a Sony Alpha 57, which is in the lower end of DSLRs. Many pros prefer Nikon or Canon, but this is a personal preference. I use a wide angle lens (Tamron 11-18mm), a Minolta 18-200mm zoom lens, and my favorite is the Sony 1.8/50 macro lens.
No matter which brand you prefer, please stop shooting on automatic if you still are! What's the point of you having such a great camera if you don't use it to its full potential? The great thing with digital photography is that you can erase your images. So get out and start shooting. Don't be afraid to experiment.
I am a French expat living in the USA, more precisely