Want to visualize inequality? View cities from above

Aerial pictures of adjoining neighborhoods reveal how cities around the world are unevenly developed.

A neighborhood with green lawns and bright swimming pools borders a field of tin shacks in Boubosrand, a northwest suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Photograph by Johnny Miller

From the air, drone photography exposes the economic divide within cities. Roads, canals, and fences become barriers that split the land separating the rich and poor.

A wealthy community sits on a steep hill above the Umgeni River in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa. From their high-rise apartments, they can see the Moses Madiba soccer stadium, the Durban Country Club, and hundreds of shacks perched along the hillside.
A wealthy community sits on a steep hill above the Umgeni River in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa. From their high-rise apartments, they can see the Moses Madiba soccer stadium, the Durban Country Club, and hundreds of shacks perched along the hillside.
Photograph by Johnny Miller

Stark images from Johnny Miller’s series “Unequal Scenes” highlight the uneven development of cities. Makeshift shacks butt against developments in Mumbai. Lots sit empty in Detroit while an adjoining neighborhood flourishes. An electric fence buzzes around an affluent community in South Africa. The landscape shows how barriers—both man-made and otherwise—reinforce the disparities in urban centers.

Johnny Miller is a photographer based in South Africa. For more of his work see his website and follow him on Instagram @millefotosa.
Editor's Note: This article originally published a photograph by Miller of the Vusimuzi informal settlement that had been flipped along the vertical axis. It is now correct.

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