Hi! I got into cosplay 10-11 years ago (I’m a granny) as something fun to do with friends! We were huge fans, role players and creative people so cosplay kinda developed naturally especially since my good friend shirotsuki’s sister was an accomplished seamstress.
I haven’t been paid for a photoshoot. Generally cosplayers pay the photographer for the shoot. I’ve been lucky in that my shoots have been at photographer’s request so it was free. I’m actually working with one to eventually sell cosplay prints which is neat! The barter system is your best friend!
Oh man, it does get hella expensive and I admit I didn’t get into the more complex stuff until I finished college and got my big kid job. But don’t let that stop you! I started back in high school and cosplayed all through college when I was broke as hell and still managed to pull off some great stuff on a tight budget. If you’re careful about what you choose to cosplay and the materials you use there’s no reason you can’t make something gorgeous for pretty cheap!
It helps if you buy things bit by bit over time as well. Some fabric here, a wig there, etc. Planning ahead is super key. Also the more stuff you start to accumulate you’ll find yourself saying “oh I already have X left over from my last cosplay, I could make X using that!” I seriously used the same wig for four different cosplays over several years and only recently had to replace it (6 years of use!)
Cosplay is very accessible these days so you can get just about anything for a good price if you’re willing to search :D let me know if you ever need any help!