Ken James

Back Photographer

Ken James is a 24-year veteran photojournalist who started his career with the Fairfax Newspaper Group in Sydney Australia. Since relocating to California in 2002, Ken has contributed to many newspapers and wire services such as Bloomberg News, United Press International (UPI), The New York Times and San Francisco Examiner. In 2005, Ken spent six months covering the Iraq war and later documented the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Ken has actively covered state politics and gubernatorial elections, including the 2003 Recall. Besides covering national and local news events, Ken contributes monthly photo essays to Comstock’s and Sacramento Magazine. For more, visit www.kjamesimages.com.

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Delicate Duties

Valarie Phillips sorts through clothing to be dry cleaned at Woodard-Ficetti Cleaners on J Street in Sacramento. She checks each garment, cleans the material under the arms and then handles any special spot-cleaning and scrubbing as dictated by a ticket attached to the clothing. Phillips, a Louisiana native, has worked at the cleaners for 22 years.

Dec 23, 2016 Sena Christian

I Believe I Can Fly

The instructors at iFly Sacramento, in Roseville, do a practice round, as the controller manages air flow. Fans at the top of a vertical wind tunnel draw air through the flight chamber and then push it back down through the sides, creating a column of air. These instructors pride themselves on being able to take anyone off the street and introduce them to the sport of bodyflight. 

Nov 18, 2016 Sena Christian

Cash Haul

In a single generation, the Rozakis family went from having one dump truck to owning a $16 million materials transport business

In 2005, GR launched Crete Crush, a sister company to its trucking operation that includes two concrete and asphalt crushing and recycling centers, one at the company’s Rancho Cordova headquarters, and another at its 15-acre facility off Bradshaw Road in Sacramento. When the company first started, it was paying someone else to crush the concrete and asphalt that was accumulating from demolition site hauls.

Oct 18, 2016 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
Jeff Pettigrew prepares the inside padding of a casket at Pettigrew & Sons Casket Co., a family-run business in Sacramento founded by the late Fay Pettigrew, who is Jeff’s grandfather. Building a casket is the last thing you can do for a person, says Barbara Pettigrew Hart, who is Fay’s daughter and Jeff’s aunt. “We think about, 'What if this was a person I love?'”

Lasting Vessel

Jeff Pettigrew prepares the inside padding of a casket at Pettigrew & Sons Casket Co., a family-run business in Sacramento founded by the late Fay Pettigrew, who is Jeff’s grandfather.

Sep 30, 2016 Sena Christian

Pitch Perfect

The Giants have made an uncharacteristically long-term commitment to the River Cats — here's why the match is ideal for both teams

In September 2014, the River Cats signed a two-year affiliation agreement with the San Francisco Giants, effectively ending the team’s 15-year partnership with the Oakland Athletics. Less than two years later, the two clubs have inked a new four-year deal, extending the agreement through 2020, marking one of the few times the Giants have signed a four-year agreement with a Triple-A affiliate.

Sep 20, 2016 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
Dominik Jakubek, one of two goalkeepers for Sacramento Republic FC, makes a diving save on a shot during practice at Bonney Field. Jakubek joined the franchise as an original member in 2014. He was 34 years old when he was signed.

In The Penalty

Dominik Jakubek, one of two goalkeepers for Sacramento Republic FC, makes a diving save on a shot during practice at Bonney Field. Jakubek joined the franchise as an original member in 2014. He was 34 years old when he was signed.

Sep 2, 2016 Sena Christian
Safety comes first for billboard crew members Rick Barton (left) and Daniel Stutes (right), of Outfront Media, as they change out a billboard along Capital City Freeway in Sacramento. New employees undergo hands-on climbing training, which covers harness safety and personal protective equipment training; everyone has annual classroom study

High Vinyl

Raising vinyl on the roadside

Billboards have been a staple of American advertising since the late 1800s. Originally, crews pasted several strips of posters together to create one large billboard. Now, they use vinyl engineered to withstand harsh weather. 

Jul 22, 2016 Sena Christian
Inside the control room of California ISO, headquartered in Folsom.

Will the Mega-Grid Get Built?

Cal-ISO maps out the prospects for a single power grid for the West — but skeptics want to know who will run it.

Cal-ISO is one of 38 system operators for the geographic area that covers everything west of the eastern boundaries of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. That compares with six system operators responsible for most of the rest of the country. “The divided operation of the western grid is not unlike having a bus with 38 drivers.”

Jul 12, 2016 Steven Yoder
When Bright Underbelly is completed, Sofia Lacin will have spent about 315 hours painting the expansive mural.

Placemaking: Person, Place or Thing?

Will the latest urban renewal buzzword to charge into the Capital Region draw people in or push them away?

Placemaking. You might have heard the word — maybe at a redevelopment conference or tossed around at a marketing mixer. You might have seen it in a neighborhood newsletter about new housing downtown, or read about it in an article shared by that cool architect friend who was just inspired with a vision for how to make Sacramento “the place to be.” But no matter what you’ve heard or how you feel about placemaking, the concept likely won’t be disappearing in the near future.

Mar 8, 2016 Russell Nichols
Roxy Restaurant & Bar

For the Love of Chefs

Food culture has turned chefs into local celebrities, but does it impact the restaurant’s bottom line?

Chefs continue to be among the hottest stars in Sacramento, and American, culture. That’s thanks to the Food Network’s image-building power, our exploding love of food and all things culinary, and a new societal reverence for hands-on authenticity. The consensus is that chefs with some level of recognition can help draw customers — most of the time. But restaurateurs and chefs say the cultural pizzazz around chefs can be a double-edged sword, and it’s a force they need to use wisely.

Mar 7, 2016 Rick Kushman
John Haswell has been a light rail vehicle technician at Sacramento Regional Transit for the past seven years.

A Clean Track Record

Sacramento RT employs approximately 941 people locally, 77 percent of whom are dedicated to operations and maintenance of the bus and light rail systems. John Haswell has been a light rail vehicle technician at Sac RT for the past seven years and says he is “genuinely and thoroughly thrilled to be working on the light rail vehicles.

Feb 26, 2016 Kelly Higdon
Gender Health provides mental health counseling, advocacy services, and health care and insurance to the transgender community. 

There is Power in Numbers

Gender Health provides mental health counseling to the transgender community

Since 2010, the Sacramento-based Gender Health Center has been providing a unique service sought by people in need from throughout more than 25 counties. “We are a community mental health organization,” explains executive director Ben Hudson, “and though we serve anyone seeking mental health services, we specialize in gender identity and assisting transgender individuals

Feb 16, 2016 Jennifer von Geldern

From Derelict to Designer

Revitalization efforts are gaining steam throughout the region

“What makes these revitalization projects so exciting is the creative new ways we are bringing these historic buildings back to life; it makes it great to get up each day,” says Bay Miry, vice president of development for D&S Development and a well-known Sacramento developer whose project at 700 K Street is just one example of a number of regenesis efforts springing up in the Capital Region.

Feb 2, 2016 Ken James
As principal of the School of the Sacramento Ballet, Melanie Haller trains the Pre-Professional Division — the school’s three highest levels (ages 10 to 18-and-up).

A Dancer’s Destiny

In the studio with Sacramento Ballet prinicpal Melanie Haller

As a student, Melanie Haller trained for 12 years at the internationally-recognized Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet under world-renowned ballet teacher Marcia Dale Weary. Now, as principal of the School of the Sacramento Ballet, Haller trains the Pre-Professional Division — the school’s three highest levels (ages 10 to 18-and-up).

Dec 31, 2015 Kelly Higdon
Alex Aguiar, founder of Tent Pals, can be reached at ajaguiar7@gmail.com

Friends with Tents

Tent Pals lets buyers donate temporary housing to those in need

While studying abroad at the London School of Economics, UC Davis grad Alex Aguiar befriended a young homeless girl. He found her sleeping beneath an overpass, using folded cardboard to keep the cold concrete from chilling her body. Aguiar could not get the girl’s plight out of his mind. To understand his market, Aguiar spent the night with the homeless community, learning their stories and about what might help them. That’s when the idea for Tent Pals was born

Dec 22, 2015 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
Brigit Barnes, co-founder, Right Hand Auburn

Private Efforts for Public Good

Auburn citizens turn defunct prison into needed shelter

A wearisome, vicious cycle was emerging with Auburn’s homeless population: Greater numbers were congregating on the streets by day and filling the DeWitt minimum security prison by night. Neither the city nor the county had adequate housing or facilities to deal with the situation, so the problem persisted. Residents were frustrated, but nothing was done. A group of community members vowed to act and started a grassroots effort that has culminated in turning the partially vacated barracks at DeWitt into a fully-staffed, round-the-clock facility open to Auburn’s homeless.

Dec 22, 2015 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
Business at the WAL is booming for Benjamins Shoe Corp. Since owner Benjamin Schwartz opened at the new location, what began as a side hobby has expanded into a full shop that ships internationally, offering shoe styles for both men and women.

Shoes with Soul

Benjamins Shoe Corp.

Benjamin Schwartz was an aspiring film producer in the middle of creating his first TV show when he stumbled upon his true calling as a cordwainer (a fancy word for shoemaker).

Oct 23, 2015 Kelly Higdon
The set for Idris Goodwin’s “Bars and Measures,” which will end its run at B Street Theatre on Sept. 27, marries structural design with elements of movement and careful light choreography. Though many audience members probably don't realize it, the amount of conceptualizing, visualizing and manpower it takes to be prepared for opening night is immense.

The Team Behind the Scene

B Street Theatre

“We are lucky to work with a great team here, because this is not always easy,” says set designer and charge artist for B Street Theatre Samantha Reno. “You have to be flexible, you have to be quick and you have to make good, solid decisions. The schedule can be grueling, but the show must go on.”

Sep 18, 2015 Kelly Higdon
Phil Kattenhorn was born with butchering in his blood. The owner and operator of Longhorn Meat Co., located off Interstate 80 in Auburn, grew up in a meat market alongside his father, who spent more than 50 years working as a butcher. Kattenhorn started off earning 10 cents for every shishkabob he helped make, then worked his way up from bagging groceries to running the meat department for an Alaskan grocer before taking over the family business.

A Cut Above

Longhorn Meat Company

“Old fashioned butchering really is becoming a lost art,” owner and operator of Longhorn Meat Co. Phil Kattenhorn says, “In a world now filled with internet purchases and self-service counters, I think people are beginning to miss that connection. It seems we are headed back towards a more simple way of doing things.”

Aug 21, 2015 Kelly Higdon
(Photo: Eiko James Photography)

Survival of the Fishes

California depends on hatcheries to maintain the state’s salmon population, but the cost is genetically inferior fish

Every spring and summer, Chinook salmon gather in vast schools along the central coast of California, fattening up on krill and small fish before their autumn spawning migration into the Central Valley. Fishermen in commercial boats, private skiffs and kayaks take to the water, and most summers, the fleet catches several hundred thousand Chinook weighing somewhere between five and 30 pounds. California’s bounty of salmon, however, does not reflect a thriving fish population.

Aug 11, 2015 Alastair Bland

Waiting for the Call

The decade-long journey to umpiring in the big leagues

Well after midnight, Jordan Ferrell returns to his Fresno hotel room and lowers his exhausted body onto the bed. After umpiring nine games in 12 days, he’s spent. To unwind, he flips on the TV, scans the movie selection and retrieves his phone to check texts. Working the plate at tonight’s game was an exercise in patience.

Jul 7, 2015 Laurie Lauletta-Boshart
Anthony Padilla has been spray painting murals since 1995. He snagged his first job at a bar in Citrus Heights after illegally painting a monkey on the back of the building with the word “Knucklehead.”

The Law of Art

On the streets with graffiti artist and muralist Anthony Padilla

When asked if the perception of graffiti art has softened over time, artist Anthony Padilla pauses before tentatively responding, “A little bit. Obviously vandalism is wrong, but then there’s also the art side of [graffiti]. I think when you see writing on a wall, it shows that there is life in that city.” 

Jun 5, 2015 Allison Joy

Strategy for Growth

Variety is the spice of life at Morningsun Herb Farm

While Rose Loveall oversees the plants at Morningsun Herb Farm, her husband Dan Sale handles maintenance and business operations. When the duo opened their nursery 20 years ago, they started with just one small greenhouse and two hoop houses. Since then, Sale has built another greenhouse and eight more hoop houses, in addition to the small gardens that dot the property.

Apr 22, 2015 Allison Joy
Basketball court at Big Hairy Dog

Collaborative Spaces

5 companies that work together in style

These local businesses take teamwork to the next level with bold colors and innovative designs that inspire creativity and collaboration. Show us your company’s collaborative space for a chance to take over our Instagram account! 

Apr 17, 2015 Andy Galloway
After years working with chainlink fence as part of the family business, Stephen Lyman opened Fence World in East Sacramento in 1978. The shop handles everything from simple cut-and-weld projects to custom black- and metalsmithing. While his staff works the larger, more structural elements, Lyman uses his artistry and attention to detail to craft the stylized features. The forge — an oven used to heat the iron — can reach up to 3,000 degrees.

Steel Power

Hot and heavy with the blacksmiths of East Sac's Fence World

Stephen Lyman, owner of Fence World, has been in the family fencing business since he was a boy (on payroll since the age of 10, he says). “This is one of the decorative arts that is just limitless — the things you can’t do in wood, you can do in iron,” Lyman says with pride. “You can’t build a bridge like the Golden Gate out of wood. It has to be steel.”

Mar 27, 2015 Allison Joy
Andy Heape has been a California Department of Fish and Wildlife technician at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Gold River — where he sorts, fertilizes and counts salmon — for 15 years. The fall-run Chinook (king) salmon spawn started Nov. 3 — later than usual because of the drought.

Counting Roe

The spawn of a salmon

Andy Heape has been a California Department of Fish and Wildlife technician at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Gold River — where he sorts, fertilizes and counts salmon — for 15 years.

Jan 16, 2015 Lucia Ruiz
 Units in the renovated industrial space at Warehouse Artist Lofts feature exposed ductwork, original concrete columns and period-appropriate light fixtures.

Catalyzing R Street

Tax credits and public money make the numbers work for artist lofts

Here’s a recipe to breathe new life into a lifeless block of R Street: Start with a 5-story warehouse made of solid concrete, suitable for loft conversion. Add subsidized rents. Then attract artists, writers and other creative types, plus their spouses, lovers, kids and hangers-on. Sprinkle in baby strollers, coffee shops, galleries, some painful-looking piercings and plenty of ink on skin.

Jan 12, 2015 Morris Newman

Wossamotta U

Skeptical and debt-ridden, millennial alumni scale back donations to their alma maters

Eight of 10 alumni under 35 say the main reason they haven’t donated to their alma maters is that they feel they’ve paid enough already in tuition. Over half said they “don’t think the school really needs the money.” Add that to the common belief that their money ends up in some institutional “black hole,” and the currently bleak donation landscape makes sense.

Jan 2, 2015 Russell Nichols