Staff Profile: David Fried, Photographer for the Integrated Marketing and Communications Department

Jan 18, 2024
Photo of Dave Fried, Coordinator of Photography at Westfield State University

David Fried

David Fried, Coordinator for Photography at Westfield State, graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from Ramapo College in New Jersey. In a twist of serendipity, Fried grew up in Westfield, New Jersey, before moving to Western, Massachusetts, shortly after graduating college, where he was then hired as the University’s photographer in 1998.

At the time, Fried’s craft was vastly different from how it is today, with him working with black and white photography early in his career. He also spent a lot of time in the darkroom, developing film. As technology has changed throughout the years, the means and tools Fried uses to capture photos has also fluctuated. This evolution, Fried said, is one of his favorite parts of being a photographer.

“It’s always changing,” he said. “Back when I was learning photography, and even before, digital photography came in a flagship camera, whether it was a Nikon or Canon camera. That camera would be their flagship camera for 10 years. Now, the technology is outdated. Images with those cameras are noticeably poor quality, and the newer cameras, they’re little, tiny computers. They can't really take the abuse that our equipment sometimes gets.” Fried went on to say that some cameras even have to be replaced every two to three years.

The whimsical nature of photography extends beyond the technology itself as well, with photoshoots often needing improvisation and flexibility. “Sometimes I'll go into something, not knowing what to expect and coming away with something that I'm really proud of,” Fried said. “So, it's kind of tricky. I just like photographing people, because I think when we look at photographs that have people in them, we can envision ourselves a little bit.”

A close-up shot of a student from 2014 in a blue, Owl, soccer team uniform. He is mid-air, leg extended and about to kick a ball that was passed to him.
Soccer team, 2014

As the campus photographer, part of his duties is to snap photographs that reflect the spirit of the University. One of his favorite ways to do this is through attending and working during the University’s intramural sports games, as it provides him with the opportunity to work with people of all varieties, whether they be students, faculty, staff, librarians, or families and Champions.

“Sports events are great,” he said about it. “I love them. They’re fast-paced. In particular, I like baseball because it’s in the springtime. When you walk outside and it's a beautiful spring day and sun is shining, I can be there. I can just be outside, watch a baseball game, and take some photos.”

However, overall, Fried feels grateful to be the campus photographer because of Westfield State itself. Describing the community as a “great group of people,” he also said that working for the University “feels good.”

“I try to encourage people to go to college to get an education, to further their education,” he added. “’Westfield State feels like a second home to me. I've seen it through so many changes, but the people have always been very laid back and easy-going, yet at the same time very committed to their role here as educators, and to the mission of the university. So, I feel really good about that.”

A shot of the lobby of New Hall. Two students are carrying backpacks and walking through it. The room is lowly lit, with the overhead lights photographed with a wide lens.
Move-In Day, 2018

Fried feels that it is also an honor as a photographer to be able to witness significant moments in people’s lives by freezing instances in time via his camera. “You get to capture some of the most important memories that these students have,” he said. “You also see where these people come from and what the University gives to them, and then what they in turn, do with what has been given.”

Unfortunately, similarly to many others, his work on campus was greatly affected by the pandemic, as quarantine allowed for minimal public interaction between folks in the same setting. Despite the disruptions brought by COVID-19, Fried praised the resiliency and dedication of the University in making sure that students were adequately accommodated due to the circumstances.

“The pandemic brought everything into sharp focus,” he commented. “So many students were coming out of their college experience with an unsure sense of direction of where they're going. At Westfield State though, I was blown away by how well the University works towards making sure that students are prepared for what comes after. Being at this university is really cool.”

Two students in the bottom level of Ely play jenga, with wooden blocks. The tower is mid-fall, with the two women laughing. Both wear dark blue T-shirts and dark pants.
Accepted Student Day, 2023

For those interested in seeing some of Fried’s work, you can check out a small portfolio of some of his favorite photos.

For those interested in celebrating the various faculty and staff celebrating their time here, you can also register for the employee recognition’s breakfast, which will be held on January 31.