Marmon took his first photograph in 1936 at age 11, of a motor vehicle accident on the old U.S. Route 66 in Laguna. However, it was 11 years later when Marmon began to embrace photography on a professional level.
Lee Marmon's photography career began as a youthful, creative pursuit in 1947, shortly after he returned home to New Mexico from hisWorld War II tour of duty on remote Shemya Island in the far western Aleutians. His father, Henry Marmon, put a professional qualitySpeed Graphic camera in 22-year-old Lee's hands, and suggested that he take photographs of the tribal elders, "so we'll have something to remember them by." Photography lessons were scarce on the high desert in the 1940s but it was a practice that young Lee embraced with commitment and enthusiasm.