Inequality is often hard to see from ground level. That's why South African photographer Johnny Miller chose the bird's view to show the differences 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
The birds view shows perspectives on social and economical problems that we wouldn’t see if we are living right in it. With his amazing graphical style and aesthetics, Johnny Miller’s work shows how rich and poor live side by side, yet with inseparable, invisible walls between them.
Either you have everything: green grass and space, electricity, water and pools, cars and transport – or you live in shacks like the other ten thousands of poor people in the slums that surround you. These lives that we don’t see but can only guess from the photographs, in reality exists side by side at the same time, the same place.
Storytelling requires preparation...
Miller’s way of story telling takes a lot of research in advance. To find 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 laws, 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.”
After having taken drone photos in Tanzania, Kenya, 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 – also by capturing portraits of the inhabitants.
Unequal Scenes took part in the UN SDG Action Award and was finalist in the category "Visualizer". The Award took place during the Global Festival of Action by UN SDG Action Campaign in Bonn in May 2019.