Mike Ekern

Full Stack Photographer

DevOps Student



July 2007 - Present

Director of Photography and Visual Media

University of St. Thomas

  • Supervise two staff photographers and five student employees with a commitment to helping them find meaningful work that serves the business.

  • Establish policy and procedures for creation and use of visual imagery at St. Thomas including workflow development, usage policies, and model release procedures.

  • Manage client expectations, set realistic project timelines, and synthesize viewpoints from multiple stakeholders into a final visual concept.

  • Serve as department technical liaison and manager for WordPress-based institutional news site. Develop permissioning system, manage caching and CDN system, roll out timely updates, point of first contact for user technical questions.

  • Developed online assignment request and routing system using Zendesk, reducing request routing times by 80%.

Staff Photographer

University of St. Thomas

  • Use photography and video to document the story of St. Thomas for print and online marketing materials.

  • Hang out of helicopters, dive in Lake Superior, globetrot.

December 2003 - June 2007
2017 - 2020 (est)

M.S. Software Engineering

University of St. Thomas

Topics Covered:
Bash Scripting
SQL databases
Software project management

B.A. Print Journalism

University of St. Thomas

Summa cum laude


Skills & Certifications

100%FAA Part 107 Drone Certification
85%AWS Certified Solutions Architect (est. May 2018)


/Key Accomplishments


Initiated DAM replacement project resulting in a system that houses more than 100,000 still and video assets and has more than 200 users. New system reduced image retrieval time from hours to seconds, saving nearly 1700 staff hours per year.

Analyzed existing digital asset management system, identifying end-user pain points through interviews and workflow analysis.

Developed updated system concept and researched vendor products. Presented chosen product and implementation plan to users, financial stakeholders, and technical infrastructure team.

Configured and deployed chosen system on premises  in collaboration with infrastructure team.

Developed 500-keyword taxonomy and tagging system to boost search capabilities.

Developed self-service video training modules for new users.

Supervised system transition to vendor-hosted cloud in 2018.

Monitor system, manage new-user onboarding and permissions, provide end-user technical support, serve as primary vendor contact, test updates, and authorize maintenance windows.


Researched and customized a system for rapid transmission of digital images from a professional camera to an editing desk.

Wifi-based transmission from camera to cell phone to FTP server puts images online within 30 seconds of capture.

Used to cover two NCAA Division III national championships, allowing St. Thomas to publish images on multiple social media and web channels before other outlets.


This site hosted on Amazon S3 and backed by disposable infrastructure defined in code.


As colleagues at the University of St. Thomas, Mike and I have collaborated on many, many projects related to branding, storytelling and social media. Most notably, we worked together on creating a storytelling and news website. During that time, his technical knowledge allowed him to serve as a conduit between our editorial team and the IT resources we needed to make our site run. As the site has grown and evolved, he also has had the ability to troubleshoot technical issues and translate our needs to IT staff who support us.

In addition, Mike has created technology and infrastructure solutions that have enabled me and others on our team to be more effective and efficient in our work. His expertise has allowed us to publish photo content in real-time across multiple communication platforms, which has elevated the voice of storytelling on behalf of the university.

Over the seven years we have worked together, Mike has become a go-to resource, confidant and friend. As a colleague, I enjoy his pragmatic approach to his work and his unparalleled creativity. Mike would be a valuable addition to any forward-looking team.

Kate Metzger, Content Marketing Manger, Ameriprise
Mike Ekern is a talented photographer. This should come as no surprise to those who have seen his work. But his impact goes far beyond the lens.

As an editor, I have had the good fortune of working with Mike on a number of publications. Beyond his technical skills, Mike has an acute sense of how photography fits into each feature – whether it’s a print article or a multimedia piece.

Mike has the rare ability to focus on a specific task, but yet keep in mind the broad goals of each project. And it is this grasp of “the whole” that puts both his subjects and his peers at ease.

What I appreciate most about Mike is his willingness to stretch and collaborate. I’ve worked with him not only in his capacity as a magazine photographer, but also as a committee member on the New Media Initiatives Group at St. Thomas. He is deeply informed on technology trends, and is always searching for new ways to meet the needs of our audience. Mike is patient, and he challenges without commanding. In sum, he is a professional who inspires those around him to do great things.

Make is talented beyond his years. I recommend him without reservation.

Brian Brown, Executive Director of Media and Publications, University of St. Thomas