Poultry Perfection

Explore the beautiful and bizarre world of pageant chickens through Tamara Staples’ stunning photos.

Chickens began charming their way into photographer Tamara Staples’ heart nearly 20 years ago. Her uncle, a chicken breeder from Georgia, introduced Staples to the beautiful and bizarre world of pageant chickens when he took her to one of his poultry shows. There she saw birds with frizzled feathers, naked necks, and colorful combs—birds bred to achieve The Standard of Perfection, the comprehensive guide to poultry breeding.

Fascinated by the elevation of a bird most people only consider as a food product, Staples knew she had to photograph them. After seeing chicken after chicken look right back at her through the lens, she realized that her appreciation for these flamboyant fowl was not merely superficial. 

“These birds are not just food, they have real personalities,” said Staples. “I felt a connection and I realized how powerful that was and wanted to share it with others."

Share it she did—Staples has now published two books full of her photographs of chickens. The following photos are from her latest book, The Magnificent Chicken: Portraits of the Fairest Fowl

You can find out more about her work on chickens at www.prettychicken.com

Read “Stalking the Wild Ur-Chicken,” a story from the November-December issue of Audubon Magazine on the Red Junglefowl’s presence in a small Georgian town.

[gallery:227546|align:left|caption:GALLERY See the chickens.]