Born in 1963 in London, Mike Hutchings grew up in various countries around Africa, before finishing basic schooling in South Africa in 1980. His earliest memory of photography is a Kodak instamatic camera that his sister had when he was about 5 years old. He borrowed it and went to a game park, where he shot some "terrible" pictures of the animals and his friends.
He completed an Honours degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town in 1986. Hutchings then became active in organisations including the End Conscription Campaign and the South African Youth Congress. He began to work as a freelance photographer and occasional writer for a variety of news and community organizations. He also contributed photographs to the Afrapix collective. Hutchings covered the political conflict in South Africa in the 1980s, leading up to the unbanning of political organizations, the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid rule.
In 1991, he joined Reuters and has worked on a broad range of stories in Africa and beyond, including conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, as well as the floods that struck Mozambique in 2000. He has also covered a range of global sporting events including the 2004 Olympic Games, the 1995 and 2003 Rugby World Cups, the 2003 and 2007 Cricket World Cups and the 2010 Soccer World Cup among others. In 2011 he won a World Press Photo award for Sport.