unequal scenes: drone photography documents stark social inequality across the world

unequal scenes: drone photography documents stark social inequality across the world

‘discrepancies in how people live are sometimes hard to see from the ground,’ photographer johnny miller describes, in speaking about the potential social impact of aerial imagery. ‘the beauty of being able to fly is to see things from a new perspective – to see things as they really are.’


miller is the man behind ‘unequal scenes’, a worldwide exploration of income inequality via drone photography. architectural barriers — both planned and impromptu — can be clearly perceived from the sky, across major metropolises from mexico city to mumbai.

mexico city: wealth is juxtaposed with enormous, sprawling lower income housing areas



through ‘unequal scenes’, miller takes us on a journey around the world to experience some of the shocking social conditions sometimes imperceptible from the ground. ‘looking straight down from a height of several hundred meters, incredible scenes of inequality emerge,’ miller says. ‘some communities have been expressly designed with separation in mind, and some have grown more or less organically. by providing a new perspective on an old problem, I hope to provoke a dialogue which can begin to address the issues of inequality and disenfranchisement in a constructive and peaceful way.’

mexico city: a gated housing estate in the ixtapalapa neighborhood sits next to a low-income area

papwa sewgolum golf course: a sprawling informal settlement exists just meters from the tee for the 6 hole

mumbai: the area surrounding the bandra kurla complex is a mixture of extreme wealth and extreme poverty

vukuzenzele/sweet home: the visual difference between the two is stark

durban metro: the rich find themselves at the top not just financially, but geographically

nairobi: upwardly mobile kenyans live in planned, gated communities, which sometimes abut slum communities

USA: traffic on I-880 in oakland, CA inches past a homeless encampment

tanzania: vast growth led to sprawling informal areas that spider outward from the city centre

  • There is a LOT of discussion about income inequality, but it rarely includes the reasons for the inequality. I think the recognition of it is nothing new, but if we’re going to continue to point it out, I think we should also be investigating the causes. I think you’ll find that, most of the time, it’s due to things like poor education and poor life decisions, either of which could be cultural. Cultural ideas about family and personal responsibility are often a contributing factor. These are very difficult to change and take a long time to steer in a different direction. Unfortunately, the most common answer, probably due to the rapid response time, is to throw more money at it. That’s a very narrow view and doesn’t’ really attack the root cause, but treats the symptom, in a very limited fashion.

    Chad says:
  • What is the exact location of the image used as the article cover-photo?Which area in Mumbai?

    Jas says:

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