Russell Lee was an American photographer and photojournalist, best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration. His technically excellent images documented the ethnography of various American classes and cultures.

Lee grew up in Ottawa and went to the Culver Military Academy for high school. He studied in Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University.

He gave up an excellent position as a chemist to become a painter. Originally he used photography as a precursor to his painting, but soon became interested in photography for its own sake, recording the people and places around him. Among his earliest subjects were Pennsylvanian bootleg mining and the Father Divine cult.