In this day and age, there are plenty of places to get new camera gear. But how do you decide if you want to buy new or used? Online or in a store? What equipment should you get? These are all good questions.
First, start with what to get. This is not an easy thing to answer since not everyone's needs are the same. I generally wait until I have a need before I buy a new piece of gear. I started out with a mid-range dSLR and the kit lens that it came with. This worked well for me until I photographed my first concert. Out of approximately 750 photos, less than 25 were usable. I quickly realized I needed a better lens. That's how I ended up getting the Nikon 70-200 2.8 lens. That was many years ago and I still have that lens. For the general consumer who isn't sure what they want, a great place to start your research is SnapSort. This site will allow you to do side-by-side comparisons of a wide range of camera gear.
Second, now that you know what you want, where should you get it? A local big box store? The internet? Random guy (or girl, no need to discriminate. :D ) I don't recommend the random person on the corner. Who knows what could be wrong with that gear. I tend to avoid the big box stores for camera gear since they don't have much in the way of higher end stuff. Two of my favorite places are B&H Photo and Adorama. They have good warranties for their merchandise and are reputable sales companies in the camera business. You can also check Ebay and Craigslist, but be careful. You generally don't get a warranty from these sellers, and there's no real guarantee that you're getting what you pay for. If you do choose either of these, check the prices at other dealers first to make sure you are actually getting a good deal. I've seen a few cameras lately on Craigslist that are more expensive than if I were to buy them from B&H.
If you have any questions, let me know and I'll try to help. :)
And here's a random photo I took of a body-painted model in a suitcase from John Shippee Photography.