Update on Apryl's Fight with Cancer

It's been 6 months since I posted the story about Apryl and her fight with inflammatory breast cancer.  I am incredibly happy to report that she BEAT the cancer against her doctor's adds.  Apryl went through rounds of chemotherapy after giving birth to Baby Haven.  It was hard to watch her losing her hair, weight and going through emotional and physical stress while taking care of a toddler and baby every single day.  We heard at the beginning of her treatment that the tumor had spread to her liver and that was a big blow.  But in the end though, the chemo worked.  She still had a mastectomy to remove her right breast.  I visited her before the surgery.  She truly is a brave and strong woman to say the least.  She looked very nervous and I'm sure that she was afraid.  But she wasn't upset or feeling sorry for herself.  She decided to live no matter what it takes.  All cancers are evil.  But her case...  To be honest, I can't stop thinking every time I see her and her family, why do they have to go through this?  Apryl is probably the fittest and healthiest person I know (apart from this cancer).  She wanted lots of babies and big family.  That was her dream.  Apryl and Peter are good people.  They serve food at homeless shelters, run for charities all the time, kind to their friends and families. 

She is a trooper.  I am grateful that she had me around during her treatments and surgeries to document her journey.  Now Apryl goes to physical therapy and chemo treatment every 3 weeks. Probably for the rest of her life to be sure that the cancer doesn't come back.  It is nice to see her more relaxed and ready to go back full swing with enjoying her normal life.  

One thing I always told Apryl and truly believe why she beat this cancer was her positive attitude to fight and live.  She embraced the support from everyone and was very active about researching and talking to medical staff or other patients. I think positive mental energy is important for survival. Apryl and I want to share her story with images to encourage and support people like her.  I will be editing all the images I have so far and hope to share them with public.  If you are interested in publishing the story, please feel free to contact me.  rika@riakoto.com

Thanks for stopping by.


Mexico 2017

Hi! We went to Puerto Vallarta back in February to get away from the cold wet nasty weather in Seattle which we are still having in MAY! Crazy. I wish I were there right now.

Street photography is the heart of my photography and I too some while the vacation.  Puerto Vallarta is a very well known tourist resort and I was skeptical of seeing anything too interesting or authentic.  But boy I was wrong. I had one of the most interesting trips.  I think because people who live there are very open and kind and don't mind the tourists living amongst themselves.  I felt welcomed even in the middle of nowhere.  I was there only for 5 days and wish I had more time to explore deeper.  I highly recommend seeing how Mexican natives live there instead of staying at your comfy superficial resort.  Rent a car, get out and see the culture and people!  There are so much to see and learn. 

  • Location:  Puerto Vallerta and Beyond, Mexico
  • Season: Feburary 
  • #puertovallerta #mexico #streetphotography


Apryl's Story

Apryl has been diagnosed with aggressive and rare form of breast cancer known as Inflammatory Breast Cancer back in March, 2016.  She is at the Stage IV and was 7 months pregnant at the time of her diagnosis.  Our husbands  own a small business together and they are partners.  Right away when I heard about this, my heart dropped down.   I felt I couldn't just do nothing and watch them suffer through the fight.  But what can I do?  Apryl is a beautiful person who actually enjoys being photographed.  I talked to Apryl about me documenting her fight with this evil cancer .  Because I knew already that Apryl actually enjoys being photographed and because she is such a brave person, I knew that she might say yes and she did.  She was in all the way.    

The diagnosis came as a complete shock to everyone who knows Apryl as she is a toughest athlete you ever meet. She climbed on 1,311 stairs at Columbia Towner in Seattle only a week before her diagnosis, 7-months-pregnant, to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma society.  I started photographing her after she asked me to take her pregnancy shots while she still has her hair and before the chemo treatment.  She was 7 months pregnant.  She gave birth 2 months later to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Heaven.  

Giving birth and raising two small children is a lot for any women even if you are perfectly healthy.   On top of it, Apryl has to deal with cancer treatment, side effects and other never-ending medical procedures.  But she is fighting strongly and taking one positive step at a time.  

Sharing her story in this photo essay is another and a very strong way for Apryl to support other women with similar circumstances.  Be brave and keep fighting.

I will be adding more images here in the blog section as I capture every step of her journey.

Images © Rika Manabe 2016 

Archive - Images from Norway taken with Pentax 67

I've been digging trough my Pentax 67 archive this week.  I mostly shoot with my Canon gears for work, but I do take it with me every time I travel out of town mostly for landscape and portrait shots.  Despite its ridiculously heavy weight, I love taking it around with me.  Here are some images I found in my archive. 

Images Featured in a Die Zeit Article

There is an article in the current issue of Die Zeit Magazine in Germany about the work of Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, WA.  I'm very excited that my photos are used along the article in print and online.  The wheat research at Bread Lab is truly amazing and worth checking it out if you are interested in any area - food, science health - about wheat.  Too bad that I can't read German but still very excited to see my photos in the magazine! Page35!


Star Chefs 2015

My friend Junko is the most multi-talented, hardworking, generous and humble person that I know.  She is a passionate baker and  patisserie.  She began working at Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, WA about a year ago.  She already received a rising start award from Star Chefs 2015 in Seattle amongst many talented chefs like Brady Williams of Canlis, Marie Rutherford of The Whale Wins,  Edouardo Jordan of Salary. She was also more recently nominated as a semifinalist for the James Beard Award 2016.  Huge congratulations to her!  Thanks for your inspiration, friendship and support!

The photos are taken at the Star Chef events back in December. 


Weekend Trip to Walla Walla, Washington

My family and I took a little road trip to Walla Walla, WA, about 5 hours driving from Seattle to attend our friends' wedding.  It was a week before the Gentlemen of the Road was coming to the town and the whole town was super excited about the occasion.  

Apryl and Peter created such an amazing wedding.  I wasn't their wedding photographer, but knowing their stories and seeing the beautiful wedding they created, I took a few photos.  Congrats guys!!!  

Summer End

It seems not too long ago that I was making plans for the summer.  I especially enjoyed my quality time with the family.  Here are some of my personal photos from the summer.

Bread Lab and More with Norah Magazine

Jonathan Bethony, the resident baker at Bread Lab.

Jonathan Bethony, the resident baker at Bread Lab.

I had a pleasure to meet and work with two lovely women from Tokyo a few weeks back.  They are from a lifestyle magazine called Norah and here in Seattle to interview my good friend Junko Mine about her bread making.  Junko is a professional pâtissier and she also works making bread with local natural yeast which is fairly common in Japan. I joined them for a little field trip to interview a couple of key location for bread making in the States.

We visited Bread Lab in Mt. Vernon, WA, about 70 miles north of Seattle.  Bread Lab is an integral part of Washington State University - Mout Vernon Plant Breadding Program. This lab intensely experiment with different grains in different ways for different purposes to help explore and invent ways of regionally available grains to move the craft of whole grain bread baking and other grain usage forward.   They grow approximately 40,000 different kinds of grains from all around the worked and work with professional bakers and chefs from all over the world to analyze and test their whole grain products under the technical guidance of Bread Lab Director and wheat breeder Dr. Stephen Jones and Bread Lab resident baker Jonathan Bethony.

We also stopped by at Bread Farm, a bakery in a small quint town called Edison nearby.  Another inspirational bakery and their baked goods are all from natural and organic sources.  

This was not only fun to photograph but also extremely educational and inspirational for me.  It tends to happen when I work on a project with Junko.  She's an amazingly talented and most humble human being I have ever met.  I respect and appreciate her perfection, attention to detail, efforts to go out and learn constantly, and persuasion to reach and create something truly special.  I look forward to more projects with her as I learn so much about taking care of one's craft and be humble during the process.  Yes, it is kind of what we call Zen and it's a genuine one.


Dr. Stephen Jones, Bread Lab director and wheat breeder.

Dr. Stephen Jones, Bread Lab director and wheat breeder.

Scott Mangold, the owner of Bread Farm.

Scott Mangold, the owner of Bread Farm.


The Fat Hen - A Little Heavenly Cafe in Ballard.

The Fat Hen in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle.  A cafe restaurant owned by a charming couple, Massimo (left) and Linnea (not pictured).  It is a must-place to go in Seattle.  The space is casual, cozy, lovely, simple, bright - I can go on and on and on...  The food is prepared perfectly every time.  Great brunch and lunch menu (egg bakes are amazing),  great pastries (I especially love Linnea's kanelbulle - Swedish cardamom cinnamon roll) and a really good coffee.  You'll be happy to know this place!  Guaranteed!

Weekend Photo Shoot: Mustang '68

My husband's very first car is this 1968 mustang.  He's had it since he was 18 years old.  It's his baby and we have so many good and not-so-good memories with it over the years. This baby finally got a much-needed little face lift recently.  The kids love this car and now it's in the decent shape that we took it for a little road trip to the country.  

Wedding: Krisi and Trevor

I shot this wedding back in December last year. I shot the bride's sister's wedding many years ago too.  It's always great to see my past clients at their friends' or family members' weddings.  I feel in a way more comfortable and relaxed because of their presence.  I admit that I shot so many images and it was a hard one to edit.  Congratulations to Kris and Trevor!  

I have another website for my wedding work, but the two sites will be united here sometime in the near future.  Stay tuned!