David Fried, photography coordinator at Westfield State University, graduated in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in visual arts from Ramapo College in New Jersey. By chance, Freed grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, and moved to Westfield, Massachusetts immediately after his college graduation, where he was hired as the university's photographer.
At the time, Fried's technique was very different from what it is today, and early in his career he worked with black and white photography. He also spent a lot of time developing film in the darkroom. As technology changed over the years, so too did the means and tools Fried used to take his photographs. Fried says this evolution is one of his favorite parts of being a photographer.
“It’s always changing,” he said. “When I was studying photography, and even before that, the flagship camera, whether it was Nikon or Canon, had digital photography. That camera would be their flagship camera for 10 years. Now. Now, that technology is outdated. The quality of the images taken with these cameras is significantly lower, and the newer cameras are just tiny little computers. They really can't stand up to the abuse that our equipment sometimes takes.” Fried went on to say that some cameras have to be replaced every two to three years.
The whimsical nature of photography extends beyond the technology itself, and photography often requires improvisation and flexibility. “Sometimes you go into something without knowing what's going to happen and end up with something that you're really proud of,” Freed said. “So it's a little difficult. I just like photographing people, because I think when you look at a picture of a person, you can imagine yourself a little bit.”
Part of his mission as a campus photographer is to take photos that reflect the spirit of the university. One of his favorite ways to do this is by attending and working at college intramural sports games. Because he has the opportunity to work with all kinds of people: students, faculty, librarians, families, and champions. .
“Sporting events are great,” he said of it. “I love them. They're fast-paced. I love baseball, especially since it's spring. When you're walking outside and it's a beautiful spring day, the sun is shining, I love being there. You can. You can just go out and watch a baseball game and take some pictures.”
But overall, Freed feels grateful to be a campus photographer because of Westfield State University itself. He described the community as a “great group of people” and said it “feels good” to work at the university.
“I try to encourage people to get an education and go to university for further education,” he added. “Westfield State University feels like a second home to me. I have seen many changes at this university, but the people have always been very laid-back and friendly, yet at the same time… I'm very passionate about my role as an educator here and the mission of the university. So I feel really good about that.”
Fried feels it is an honor as a photographer to be able to witness important moments in people's lives by freezing them through his camera. “Some of the most important memories students have can be captured in photographs,” he said. “You can also see where these people are coming from, what the university is giving them, and what they are doing with what they have been given.”
Unfortunately, like many others, his work on campus has been greatly affected by the pandemic as quarantine has minimized public interactions between people in the same environment. Ta. Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, Fried praised the university's resilience and dedication in ensuring students were able to respond appropriately to the situation.
“The pandemic has brought everything into sharp focus,” he commented. “So many students end their college careers unsure of where they are going. I was amazed at how well I worked on it. It's really great to be at this university.”
If you're interested in Fried's work, check out his small portfolio of some of his favorite photos.
Those interested in celebrating the time different faculty and staff spend here can also register for the Employee Recognition Breakfast on January 31st.