Ballarat's "doggy culture" represented a perfect business opportunity for photographer Steve Barnes.
About six years ago he launched his pet portrait business Four Foot Fotos, combining his love of photography and man's (and woman's) best friends.
Those two loves have continued to coexist and find a wider audience, and for the next three weekends he will be part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, taking pet portraits in Alfred Deakin Place in an event called Furry Fotos.
"This is recognition of that doggy culture in Ballarat, and it is predisposed to something like this. It fits with the population and their love of dogs, it fits in with photography and it's something a bit different for the BIFB to put out there," Mr Barnes said.
While some people question the willingness and sanity of pet owners paying for pictures of their companions when they can take their own photos on their mobile phones, Mr Barnes believes phone photography has given people a better appreciation for professional photographs.
"I was talking to someone a while ago who said everyone has a smartphone in their handbag which has a camera, which is true, but I think people are getting better appreciation for photography, which the BIFB is tapping in to.
"Most people take a photo on their phone and it's pretty good, but the recognise the limitations. Then along comes a professional photographer with thousands of dollars of gear and good knowledge of how to use it and the results really stand out.
"I think it's giving people more of an appreciation for photography, not less, and that's why the BIFB is doing so well."
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Mr Barnes had never even heard of pet portraits until his daughter received a voucher for a pet portrait session in Brisbane. When he had a look in to it he realised he too could do
Pet lovers can book a 20 minute photo session with Mr Barnes on Sunday September 8, 15 and 22 from 10am to 4pm for just $50 plus booking fee - a much discounted rate from his usual prices.
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale has about 100 exhibitions across 65 venues running for 60 days until October 20.
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