I’m going to break this down into two subcategories: Geography and funds. Although it is not as much of an issue today but sometimes it is hard to access source material depending on your location. Maybe the game/book is only available in another country and you don’t speak the language.
In regard to video game costumes, it could be that the person doesn’t have access to a console or computer to play the game. Not surprisingly some people can’t be bothered to buy a whole new console and the game just to make a costume they like. Other than video games, art books are another source material that can be hard to find and can cost hundreds of dollars.
Cosplayers tend to accumulate materials over the years and it is nice to get rid of them in a productive way. Sometimes they stumble across a costume that will use up some supplies and tools that have been collecting dust. It is especially the case for expensive items such as: an embroidery machine and leather crafting tools. But this also applies to slightly less expensive items such as: wigs, boots, and fabric.
Cosplayers are a social bunch and like to collaborate. Often times it might be for a series that one person is a big fan of while the others are less aware or unaware of the series. Is the big fan’s costume better because they are a fan? No. Is their costume more valid because they are a fan? No. If anything they are bringing more people into the fandom.
Sometimes this is enough to get the interest of a cosplayer or maybe the character is often suggested to them as a potential costume. This can be an especially strong incentive for people who find very few representations similar to themselves in popular media. Although I believe in cosplaying whatever you want, I can understand that sometimes people are more comfortable cosplaying characters that look like them. There is a certain form of satisfaction to being told “You look exactly like them.”
There is only so much time for hobbies. Although we all would love to spend more time reading visual novels, watching TV, and playing video games, there are so many hours in the day and something has to give. Cosplay is a time intensive hobby especially when you throw in work, school, family, friends, and other interests. If someone is passionate about crafting then let them dedicate their time to that.
It’s a labour of love – The time spent on a costume can often equal or surpass the amount of time a person spends interacting with the source material. They are showing appreciation to a different aspect of the source material. There are many ways to be a fan. Cosplay is a great gateway to becoming an even bigger fan of the source material knowledge of the series does nothing to reflect on craftsmanship and quality of the costume.
“But, they are doing it for popularity because the series is popular right now and they don’t care about the fandom!” If that is what you believe, then don’t give the person publicity by commenting, instead ignore them and move on.
In a typical photoshoot many photos get snapped. Some poses may be in character while others are not. So after all the photos are narrowed down it could be that generic poses or “out of character” poses are best ones from the lot.
Some people cannot be bothered to be in character all weekend. It can be a draining process. If the acting abilities of non-actor strangers determine your enjoyment of a convention then it may be time to find other fun things to do at that event. For the most part, people get in character for photos and masquerades. Cosplayers are paying attendees too and are not obligated to pose a certain way for photos. For some the joy of cosplay is found in making and wearing the costume, instead of acting like the character.
That series isn’t even out yet. How can they cosplay it without knowing what’s it about? They may not be a fan of the series yet, but they are certainly a fan of the art, the character design, and maybe the artists who designed it. Why don’t they just design something themselves instead? Not everyone has a knack or an interest in designing their own costumes.