Inequality is often hard to see from ground level. That's why South African photographer Johnny Miller choose the bird's view to show the huge gaps between rich and poor. His project Unequal Scenes contributes to the Global Goals (SDG 10) and exposes unequal living conditions in an unseen way

Text: Helen Ashford

Wealthy housing estates next to an “informal settlement” area – inequality in Hout Bay, 15 km south of Cape Town ((photo: Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes)

The birds view shows perspectives on social and ... problems that we wouldn’t see if we are living right in it. With his amazing graphical and aesthetical style, Johnny Miller’s work shows, how rich and poor live side by side with yet insuperable, invisible walls between them. Either you have everything: green grass and space, electricity, water and pools, carport – or you live in shacks like the other ten thousands of poor people in the Slum that surrounds you. The thes lives that we don’t see but only guess in the photographs, they happen side by side at the same time, the same place.

Mobile Kenyans live in gated communities, which can be night next to poorest of slum communities, like in Loresho (photo: Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes)

Miller’s way of story telling takes a lot of research in advance. To finde the spots to let his drone rise, the 38 year old evaluates maps of slums, talks to people and visits experts, follows the news, finds important information in census data and last but not least relies on his own experiences – especially those he made in the United States and in South Africa. Once a location is filtered out, a flight plan needs to be worked out, air traffic law, flight security, personal security, weather, time and many more factors need to be taken into account.

„Unequal Scenes illustrates the inscribed history of our world in a new way. The scars within our urban fabric, so apparent from above, can provoke a sense of surprise.”

Johnny Miller

Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course just a few steps away from an informal settlement, concrete fence separates the greeen from tin shacks (photo: Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes, 

After having taken drone photos in Tansania, Kenia, South Africa, India, Mexico and the USA, the photographer and nominee of the SDG Action Award 2019 wants to expand the project to Latin America and South East Asia – then also showing portraits oft he inhabitants.

Thank you, Johnny Miller, for your amazing work that we can show here. More of Unequal Scenes: Instagram

Extreme wealth next to the very poor – inequality in Mexico City's Santa Fe neighborhood (Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes)