James Motlow grew up and was educated in Sacramento, after receiving his AA from Sacramento City College he spent a year at the Glen Fishback School of Photography. In the fall of 1971 answering the pull of a non-urban life he moved into an old store front on Main Street in Locke. Locke would be his home, inspiration and subject for the next 9 years.
During the 1970’s Motlow developed his own style of image making of farm workers, roadside cafes, Delta inhabitants, Locke, and low riders. This led to shows across Sacramento. At Sacramento City College, Crocker Museum, Artist Contemporary Gallery, Open Ring Gallery and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment lobby. Outside of Sacramento, the Oakland Museum and San Francisco Camerawork have shown his images. The Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco, after showing his Locke images packaged them into a exhibit that traveled across America.