20 Men Project

a photography project

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How did 20 Men Project started?

Right after George Floyd was murdered in June of 2020 a group of concerned Chester County residents came together on ZOOM ( because we were in the midst of the global pandemic) to talk about about what was happening so far away in Minneapolis and if this could happen in our community.

One of the points of discussion was, the way black and brown men are portrayed in the media. Christine Martey Ochola had the vision of positive images of men in our community and reached out to Sandrien de Bruijn-Mesman to see if she would like to bring this project to life.

Sandrien's father is black and during the start of the project she did a lot of research on the effects of how black men are portrayed in the media in every day life. Her dad had Alzheimer's disease and in the end of his life was sad and angry some days and it turned out it was from experiences with discrimination and micro aggressions he never told us about. The idea was to ask the men who signed up to be part of the project during their photo session: How do you want the community to see you, where do you want to be photographed, with whom do you want to be photographed, how is to be a black man in Chester County, what would you like to change to make sure your children will live in a better world.

It took almost 9 months for the first man te be photographed. But when more and more men were being photographed, there came more trust and understanding about the project and as of February 2024, 32 men have been photographed and interviewed so far. 

The project is a volunteer project, mostly grassroot funded, some canvasses were donated by my ProPrints Lab, and 35 easels were donated through an Amazon wishlist within one day by friends on Facebook, 

We printed 30x40 size canvasses of each man and created a traveling exhibition that will be shown to the public at community events, in schools and public buildings like the PA state Capitol. The men created an organic network and stay connected to me and eachother through email but also participate in panel discussions during exhibits and become mentors to black boys and young men in the community.

20 men traveling exhibition

Background information


We see images of black males as criminals on billboards, hear descriptions of black male criminals on the radio,  and see frequent images of police wrestling a black male into hand-cuffs  on TV.  Rarely do we see the same display for female criminals (of any race) or white male criminals.


With 20 Men Project, we prefer to share images of the majority of the black males, honest men working hard and going about their daily lives. The 20 Men Project is reintroducing black men and boys to the American public.  

It is only through the truthful depiction of black males in our society that we will recognize that they are not a threat to our communities, our lives, and livelihoods. A powerful and positive change will occur when all Americans begin to see black males as regular folks, neighbors, friends, and productive members of their community.

Imagery plays a big role in how society responds to various events. The widely viewed video of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer  mobilized a whole country to rise and demand justice and changes in policing. This powerful imagery presented a window into the lives of Americans of color. As a result, many white Americans heard the cries that black families have made for decades. Cries that begged for an end to police brutality and the lack of equity in our society.

The 20 Men Project is working to change the narrative that prevents the creation of a just and equitable society. The project presents an accurate depiction of the majority of black males. We seek to open hearts and minds to these wonderful members of our community, because there can be no justice and no equity until the lives of ALL Americans are valued equally.

We will share the stories of amazing black and brown males who live and thrive in Chester County yet have remained “unseen” by our community.

The idea of 20 men project started with RACE group PA in 2020. R.A.C.E. ( Racial and Cultural Equity) group PA was an apolitical and diverse group of Chester County residents. The Mission for the Racial and cultural equity group is a racial equity advocacy group that fosters the humanization of all Chester County residents through mutual respect, caring, and understanding. 

They engage in dialogue that seeks to develop trust, empathy, and awareness of the negative impact of systemic racism. 

​They support advocacy opportunities to build an inclusive, resilient community, and embrace our diversity. 

Do we still photograph men for this project?


We are happy to speak to you by phone to discuss how you can participate in this project. We understand that you may have some questions before participating. Part of our journey is to have open and frank conversations about sensitive issues and difficult topics. We can begin this journey together with getting to know each other. Let’s start by being clear about what our participants will agree to.


Participants are asked to do the following:

  • Sign a model release that permits their images to publicly displayed in:
  • 20 men project and Sandrien B Photography social media accounts
  • Exhibitions in public spaces, such as but not limited to: government buildings, schools, art galleries
  • As a part of journalistic publications such as newspapers and magazines
  • In educational lectures on racial stereotypes and harmful media-biases
  • Respond to a questionnaire and/or complete an interview to help create a more complete “picture” as a part of this biographical series of photographs.
  • There is no monetary compensation for participation in this project. All models and production crew are volunteers giving of themselves to better our community.


20 men project members are volunteers and 

try to respond to emails or return your call as quickly as possible. 

We apologize for any delays in answering and appreciate your patience.

How we envision the display for this project back in 2020.

What the 20 men are saying

about this project

" I think that this is an important avenue to combat the pervasive negative stereotypes that innodate the public at large. Another reason that I participated in the project was to underscore the rich diversity that is the black community. For too long even black America has been infected with the racist view that all black people walk alike, talk and think alike. The richness and diversity of the African American community reflects and tracks the richness and diversity of this nation and must be embraced. "

"I joined this project because its mission is important and the first of its kind. I care about they way Black men are portrayed in the media and am very aware of how it impacts the way white people view us. In joining this project, I can change the narrative for those who are here and those who will come after me, and that is very important to me. A simple picture can change the way Black men are viewed in America."

"I decided to join this project because I'm looking forward to having the narrative and perception of black men change to highlight the reality of our world. News, TV, Movies, etc. tend to skew that perspective in a negative light and I wanted to be a part of an initiative aimed at correcting that view. 

I had a great time working with Sandrien during my photoshoot. It was very easy to open up and discuss my experiences and I trust that that energy will come across in the final images. She was very good at guiding me on where and how to pose, help me relax, be more natural, and capture me in a great way. "

"I joined this project as a way to give back to the community. I love initiatives that focus on seeing people for who they are and eliminating stereotypes. It's important that we as a community continue to be welcoming and inclusive of all people regardless of their lived experiences and lived backgrounds. Truly understanding that people go beyond a color and are truly intricate beings helps us to challenge our own perceptions and biases."

"I think a negative stereotype can often exist about Black fathers. I love being a dad and I love being a Black dad so I would like to show that. I'm a black man AND also a father, husband, son. Basketball player and coach. Sneaker head and Love bike riding."



Sandrien is a bi-racial professional photographer. She and her family moved to Chester County, PA from the Netherlands. 

 Sandrien is the owner of Sandrien B Photography and an international award winning photographer who specializes in portrait photography. She loves to create photos that capture real emotions and body language, so you get photos that look natural. The goal as your photographer is to make you feel comfortable and confident. We have plenty of creative ideas for your portrait but would love to hear from you how and where you like be photographed. Together, we’ll create beautiful photos that capture your true personality and tell your story. I can’t wait to work with you! 

"Being black is only a part of my story, it's not the whole story"

One of the 20 Men

Christine Ochola


"I am the Co-Chair of the R.A.C.E Advocacy group, and have been very interested in seeing the 20-Men project come to fruition due to the positive impact that I believe it's going to have on our community. Often, black men in our community are depicted in a negative light, and we've all heard the adage "a picture is worth more than a 1000 words".

Images of black men who are incarcerated or posted on billboards on highways create an unreasonable fear and enhance negative misconceptions in the community, thus propagating implicit bias towards this demographic and inhibiting equity and inclusion.  

This project is designed to show men of color in their natural environment, and really highlights the daily lives of the majority of black men in our community. The desired impact is to push back on the negative imagery of black men that has historically been highlighted in the media, and bring to the forefront the humanity of the fathers, sons, grandparents, nephews, brothers.......and yes, neighbors in our community."

Photos of 20 men project on wall

Where will the portraits be shared?

The photos will be shared on the 20 men project and Sandrien B photography social media accounts and website. We have had traveling exhibitions in public spaces, such as government buildings, schools, art galleries and libraries.

The photos have been in journalistic publications such as newspapers and magazines and of course in educational lectures on racial stereotypes and harmful media-biases.

If you have any ideas how we could use these photos or have a lead that can help us spread these photos, we would love to hear from you as well!

Why are all the men photographed in different locations?


The goal for 20 men project was to capture each man in the location that was meaningful to them.

We ask the following questions:

  • Where do you want to be photographed?
  • How do you want to be seen by your community?
  • Do you like to bring a person or prop you would like to be photographed with?

During the photo session and the interview we talked about the location, their stories and everything they would like to share about their experience as a black man in Chester County.

I would love to be a part of 20 men Project, how can I participate?


You can use this link to schedule a call with the photographer.

We would love to talk with you to hear how you would like to help and participate in 20 men project.

Don't hestitate to email us (Sandrienbphotography@gmail.com) with any questions or concerns.

20 men project members are volunteers and 

try to respond to emails or return your call as quickly as possible. 

We apologize for any delays in answering and appreciate your patience.

Thank you! 

We'll be in touch soon!

In the mean time, please follow us on Instagram

We are looking forward to tell your story!