A Young Waitress at a Nudist Camp, NJ

1963, Printed later
Silver Gelatin Photograph

Stamped ‘A Diane Arbus photograph’, signed, titled, dated and numbered from edition of 75 by Doon Arbus, Administrator, in ink, stamped Estate copyright credit and annotated in pencil (verso).

Frame: 22 x 21 1/2 inches

Diane Arbus’s photograph “A Young Waitress at a Nudist Camp, NJ” offers a candid glimpse into a unique subculture, reflecting her fascination with marginalized communities and unconventional subjects. Taken as part of a series during Arbus’s stay at the nudist camp, the image captures the waitress in her natural environment, embodying both vulnerability and empowerment.

Arbus’s immersion in the nudist camp environment, where she also had to be nude herself, allowed her to establish a rapport with her subjects and gain intimate access to their lives. This closeness is evident in the photograph, where the waitress appears relaxed and unguarded despite her topless state. The presence of the waist apron, with a notebook tucked into its front pocket, hints at her role as a server within the camp’s communal spaces, adding layers of narrative to the image.

Arbus’s work at the nudist camp reflects her broader exploration of human identity and societal norms. By capturing individuals in unconventional settings, she challenges viewers to confront their preconceived notions of beauty, sexuality, and social acceptability. Through her lens, Arbus invites us to contemplate the complexities of human existence and the myriad ways in which individuals navigate and define their sense of self.

Overall, “A Young Waitress at a Nudist Camp, NJ” stands as a testament to Arbus’s unique approach to photography, characterized by empathy, curiosity, and a deep respect for the humanity of her subjects.