Mike Mickens attended the renowned Newhouse School at Syracuse University, from which he graduated with a B.S. in television and film production. After college, Mickens began his career in New York City working for MTV as a production manager. He also gained experience in commercial production, working with talented director/cinematographers such as Phil Marco, who inspired Mickens to pursue the art of lighting and cinematography. After spending a few years in New York working as an electrician, gaffer, and videographer, Mickens moved to Los Angeles to pursue feature film and television projects. He was gaffer and lighting designer for Kevin Costner’s “500 nations”. Mickens’ still photography from that project was included in the book based on the documentary. Mickens was also a lighting designer for director/cinematographer Tony Kaye, and their work on the music video, “What God Wants,” featuring Roger Waters, received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video. Mickens’ other projects as lighting designer included working for Oscar-award-winning director Saul Bass on the opening credits for “A River Runs Through It,” and for director David Lynch on commercials for Sony Playstation.

Roger Corman gave Mickens his first opportunity to work as cinematographer, and he subsequently shot an array of 35mm features for Corman’s Concorde/New Horizons company. Mickens quickly gained a reputation as a cinematographer who could shoot great-looking movies despite time and budget pressures.

In 2008, Mickens shot an independent feature titled "Greetings from the Shore," which was featured in American Cinematographer for its romantic portrayal of the Jersey Shore. Mickens' other projects as cinematographer include "Supah Ninjas"(Nickelodeon), "Fred: the Show" (Nickelodeon),"Big Time Rush" (Nickelodeon), second unit DP on "The New Normal" (NBC), and additional photography on "Switched at Birth" (ABC Family). He also completed the short film "Mr. Maple Leaf," starring Terri Polo, as well as a series of PSA's  for the group Common Cause, titled "The Most Influential Man in America. His most recent work includes "100 Things to Do Before High School" (Nickelodeon) and "Richie Rich" (Netflix).