In 2004, photographer Tuca Vieira captured the image of the Paraisópolis favela next to its wealthy neighbour, Morumbi, that came to symbolise the gap between São Paulo’s rich and poor. He gives us the inside story

How did you come to take this photo?
I took the photo for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, for a special report on the 450th anniversary of São Paulo in 2004. It was taken from a helicopter following a suggestion by my colleague Marlene Bergamo. But when I took it, I had no idea it would become so popular.

What does the photo show, in your opinion?
It is clearly an illustration of social inequality, maybe the biggest problem for Brazil and Latin America. The unjust and brutal difference between rich and poor, inherited from slavery, is in the origin of many other problems – violence, below-par schooling, prejudice and many other issues.

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