Drones

Striking drone photo series places class divide under the spotlight

Striking drone photo series pl...
Downtown Mumbai, with slums in the foreground
Downtown Mumbai, with slums in the foreground
View 55 Images
Baltimore street scene
1/55
Baltimore street scene
Baltimore street scene
2/55
Baltimore street scene
Downtown LA, with its infamous tent city in the foreground
3/55
Downtown LA, with its infamous tent city in the foreground
A street in Palo Alto, where RVs serve as permanent dwellings for those crowded out of the housing market by high prices
4/55
A street in Palo Alto, where RVs serve as permanent dwellings for those crowded out of the housing market by high prices
Facebook's headquarters, across the road from a homeless encampment
5/55
Facebook's headquarters, across the road from a homeless encampment
The  I-880 in Oakland, California, with homeless encampments at its edges
6/55
The  I-880 in Oakland, California, with homeless encampments at its edges
The blue roofs of a semi-sanctioned tent city can be seen in this aerial shot of Seattle
7/55
The blue roofs of a semi-sanctioned tent city can be seen in this aerial shot of Seattle
Seattle is fighting homelessness with semi-sanctioned tent cities where people can park, pitch tents and build mini-homes
8/55
Seattle is fighting homelessness with semi-sanctioned tent cities where people can park, pitch tents and build mini-homes
A tent city in Seattle in the center of frame
9/55
A tent city in Seattle in the center of frame
In Mumbai, slum dwellers cover their homes in blue tarp to protect against monsoon rains
10/55
In Mumbai, slum dwellers cover their homes in blue tarp to protect against monsoon rains
Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India
11/55
Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India
Concrete and slums in the Indian city of Dharavi
12/55
Concrete and slums in the Indian city of Dharavi
In Mumbai, slum dwellers cover their homes in blue tarp to protect against monsoon rains
13/55
In Mumbai, slum dwellers cover their homes in blue tarp to protect against monsoon rains
Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India, alongside greener pastures
14/55
Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India, alongside greener pastures
Mumbai's Dharavi Slum, the setting for the film Slumdog Millionaire
15/55
Mumbai's Dharavi Slum, the setting for the film Slumdog Millionaire
Downtown Mumbai, with slums in the foreground
16/55
Downtown Mumbai, with slums in the foreground
A coastal resort surrounded by poverty on Zanzibar Island
17/55
A coastal resort surrounded by poverty on Zanzibar Island
Money and poverty collide in Tanzania
18/55
Money and poverty collide in Tanzania
A water park abuts a modest fishing village in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
19/55
A water park abuts a modest fishing village in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
A coastal resort surrounded by poverty on Zanzibar Island
20/55
A coastal resort surrounded by poverty on Zanzibar Island
Money and poverty collide in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
21/55
Money and poverty collide in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The slum of Kibera sits alongside a golf course in Nairobi
22/55
The slum of Kibera sits alongside a golf course in Nairobi
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
23/55
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
24/55
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
25/55
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
26/55
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
A road under construction that will dissect the Kibera slum in Nairobi
27/55
A road under construction that will dissect the Kibera slum in Nairobi
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
28/55
Stark contrast between the rich and poor in Nairobi
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
29/55
The wealthy and the poor collide in the suburb of Loresho in Nairobi
The slum of Kibera sits alongside a golf course in Nairobi
30/55
The slum of Kibera sits alongside a golf course in Nairobi
Inequality in Mexico City
31/55
Inequality in Mexico City
Neva slum in Mexico City, home to more than one million people
32/55
Neva slum in Mexico City, home to more than one million people
Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City
33/55
Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City
Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City
34/55
Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City
Low-income neighborhoods separated by the wealthier Santa Fe area in Mexico City
35/55
Low-income neighborhoods separated by the wealthier Santa Fe area in Mexico City
Low-income neighborhoods separated by the wealthier Santa Fe area in Mexico City
36/55
Low-income neighborhoods separated by the wealthier Santa Fe area in Mexico City
Inequality in Mexico City
37/55
Inequality in Mexico City
From the La Malinche area of Mexico City, and beyond
38/55
From the La Malinche area of Mexico City, and beyond
A low-income settlement alongside the Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course in Durban, South Africa
39/55
A low-income settlement alongside the Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course in Durban, South Africa
A low-income settlement alongside the Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course in Durban, South Africa
40/55
A low-income settlement alongside the Papwa Sewgolum Golf Course in Durban, South Africa
The fringes of the Kya Sands informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa
41/55
The fringes of the Kya Sands informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa
The fringes of the Kya Sands informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa
42/55
The fringes of the Kya Sands informal settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa
The Masiphumelele settlement is home to around 38,000, with many living in tin shacks
43/55
The Masiphumelele settlement is home to around 38,000, with many living in tin shacks
High above the shacks of the Vusimuzi settlement, power lines carry electricity to wealthier suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa
44/55
High above the shacks of the Vusimuzi settlement, power lines carry electricity to wealthier suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa
Unequal Scenes around the Vusimuzi settlement, Johannesburg, South Africa
45/55
Unequal Scenes around the Vusimuzi settlement, Johannesburg, South Africa
High above the shacks of the Vusimuzi settlement, power lines carry electricity to wealthier suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa
46/55
High above the shacks of the Vusimuzi settlement, power lines carry electricity to wealthier suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa
Tightly packed tin roofs makeup the Imizamo Yethu settlement in Cape Town, South Africa
47/55
Tightly packed tin roofs makeup the Imizamo Yethu settlement in Cape Town, South Africa
Unequal Scenes in Kayamandi, South Africa
48/55
Unequal Scenes in Kayamandi, South Africa
Tin shacks sit in the foreground of the wine region of Kayamandi, South Africa
49/55
Tin shacks sit in the foreground of the wine region of Kayamandi, South Africa
Morningside, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Durban, South Africa, is surrounded by hundreds of tin shacks
50/55
Morningside, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Durban, South Africa, is surrounded by hundreds of tin shacks
Morningside, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Durban, South Africa, is surrounded by hundreds of tin shacks
51/55
Morningside, one of the wealthiest suburbs in Durban, South Africa, is surrounded by hundreds of tin shacks
Tin shacks surround The Pavilion Shopping Centre, one of the largest in Africa
52/55
Tin shacks surround The Pavilion Shopping Centre, one of the largest in Africa
Unequal Scenes in Vukuzenzele, Cape Town, South Africa
53/55
Unequal Scenes in Vukuzenzele, Cape Town, South Africa
The Nomzamo/Lwandle township east of Cape Town was originally designed to house single male workers during the apartheid years. It has since grown into a suburb of more than 60,000
54/55
The Nomzamo/Lwandle township east of Cape Town was originally designed to house single male workers during the apartheid years. It has since grown into a suburb of more than 60,000
The Nomzamo/Lwandle township east of Cape Town was originally designed to house single male workers during the apartheid years. It has since grown into a suburb of more than 60,000
55/55
The Nomzamo/Lwandle township east of Cape Town was originally designed to house single male workers during the apartheid years. It has since grown into a suburb of more than 60,000

Drone photography has quickly come to offer us entirely new perspectives on the world we live in, and for photographer Johnny Miller, the reality of that world isn't all rainbows, waterfalls and gorgeous cityscapes. The South African-based freelancer has been using these flying robots to document inequality around the world, resulting in a stunning and confronting set of images that highlight the stark contrast between the haves and the have-nots.

Miller found the inspiration for his Unequal Scenes series when he arrived in South Africa from the US in 2012 to study anthropology. As part of his coursework at the University of Cape Town, Miller and his classmates looked at the spatial planning and architecture of cities, and how this was influenced by apartheid.

"For example, there are huge buffer zones that were created to keep different racial groups separate," Miller tells New Atlas via email. "I just thought that was fascinating. So when I got the drone in February 2016, I had a spark of inspiration that perhaps I could capture those separations from a new perspective."

Miller's tool kit includes a DJI Inspire One drone, a DJI Mavic Pro, and a DJI M600 Pro with a Hasselblad A6D attached. These drones have taken flight around the world and snapped beautifully composed shots that drive home the extreme contrasts in how the privileged and underprivileged exist.

Baltimore street scene
Baltimore street scene

Some, such as the above shot of a Baltimore street, are simply artful presentations of impoverished areas. Most, however, are powerful and compelling portraits of a society cleaved into two disparate worlds of status and opportunity. Like the below image showing lower and upper-income housing in Mexico City.

Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City
Contrasting housing solutions in Mexico City

Much of the Unequal Scenes series focuses on South Africa where Miller studied, but he has also turned his lens to huge metropolises like Seattle, San Francisco and Mumbai.

Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India, alongside greener pastures
Very tightly packed homes make up this slum in Mumbai, India, alongside greener pastures

"To paraphrase Barack Obama, inequality is the defining challenge of this generation," Miller says. "It's not confined to one region of the world. It's not confined to one group of people, or one nation – it is intersectional, it is international. What I'm trying to do with this project is provide a visual language to discuss inequality. To help bring the topic into the public consciousness."

To see more of Miller's drone photography, be sure to have a look through our gallery.

Source: Unequal Scenes

10 comments
Daishi
This is an interesting photo series. It's interesting to think about the cost of living in these areas. Some of the people living in RV's in Palo Alto have 6 figure incomes.
crypto
South Africa looks better than the rest.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
A poor neighborhood next to a golf course?!
stewartm0205
The land that the slums occupied is worth enough to finance the building of apartment buildings to replace the slums. Four story apartment buildings would free up 3/4 of the land for development.
aksdad
Barack Obama is a century (or more) late on inequality. The Founding Fathers tackled this 242 years ago when they declared that "all men are created equal". Slavery was abolished and all races were allowed to vote in the U.S. in the late 1800's. In 1920, women too were allowed to vote in the U.S. It took Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce equality, but the laws were in place long before. The kind of "inequality" that progressives are worked up about is so-called "income inequality" which has nothing to do with real inequality, but progressives need a reason to convince people to vote for them. Interestingly, income inequality is what occupied Vladimir Lenin in the early 20th century, Karl Marx in the 19th century, Charles Fourier in the 18th century, and others before them. It's called socialism and it's been a spectacular, oppressive, failure everywhere and every time it's been tried. Unfortunately this recent focus—this virtue-signaling—in the U.S. on income inequality detracts from the real issue of inequality that over half the population of earth suffers under oppressive (yes, even socialist) governments.
ThomasYoung
There will always be poor and there will always be the rich. And to one degree or another, they exist all over the world. It is nice to be able to travel the world and document this human dilemma. Technology is great. This extreme is wealth around the world reminds me of a quote attributed to Jefferson, in the Declaration of independence, in the Preamble. "...and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."
rude.dawg
"To paraphrase Barack Obama, inequality is the defining challenge of this generation" -- Johnny Miller Wow, thanks for reminding us of how we all equally did under Mr Obama, Johnny... https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiswoodhill/2012/08/01/obama-wins-the-gold-for-worst-economic-recovery-ever/#5824df553ca2 https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/12/democrats-cant-win-until-they-recognize-how-bad-obamas-financial-policies-were/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.9b3372c30a40 https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/01/06/the-obama-recovery-has-been-weakest-ever-should-have-been-strongest/aOpf5ZO3ToyQlBUl1mb5pI/story.html https://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/obama-us-economy-march-2015-116651 Now if only we can all equally join Mr Obama kitesurfing in one of his billionaire friends private islands... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-08/barack-obama-kitesurfs-richard-branson-private-island-getaway/8250634
ljaques
Interesting juxtaposition: Young American man with at least $41,000 worth of drones and camera lenses tours the world, pointing out inequality in the world. Unenlightened irony, thy name is Johnny Miller. Stewart, your thoughts are right, but that doesn't fit their agenda.
toyhouse
Unequal, a new way to see social division - from battery-powered drones. I guess there's a hint of tech in the story. But does one really need more drone pics of cities to learn something here or to gain a new insight of some kind? Maybe. Personally, I've seen plenty of aerial city pics, chronicling the same thing over the years. The only thing different here, is the drone. It comes off as an excuse to justify the use an expensive toy. Our opinion of course. And as ljaques points out correctly - the irony here is almost painful.
Nik
One wonders if the peoples from one section were transposed to the other, and vice-versa, how long it would take for the appearance of the respective areas to follow suit.