My journey into the world of cosplay is a long one so let’s start ten years in past. When I started cosplaying, photography within the scene was basic. You would search the internet forums a few days after the event for badly lit hallway shots. You knew your costume was a hit by how many pics you managed to find in various corners of the web.
Then three big things changed that allowed for the emergence of prints: the first is the quality of cosplay and cosplay photography vastly improved. And the second is the convention scene greatly expanded to include a wider audience. The last is the growth of the internet allowed for the emergence of the cosplay famous. Whereas before you could make a name for yourself locally by competing at masquerades, now you could make a name for yourself at a national and even international level by posting photos.
When cosplay prints started emerging there was a bitter war of words between two camps. One being those in support of prints and the other opposing the commercialization of the hobby. The latter argued that cosplay would be better served if money was kept out of it because prints were an exercise in vanity. The former argued that they were meeting a demand and there was no harm in selling prints, basically saying “if you don’t want them, don’t buy them.” Mix in some personal attacks and witch hunts on forums and you got the great cosplay debate of the past six or so years.