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Not necessarily. However, if the retainer is predicated upon the performance of the photographer, and he/she has not performed, then you may be able to get your retainer back.
The photographer does have the benefit of the bargain, meaning that if you made the contract and are now breaching the contract, then he/she may be entitled to still getting the profit he/she would have made.
Unfortunately, there are many factors and no contract is as simple as either party would believe. Look to your contract and see what happens when a party breaches the contract. It will spell out what happens and what each party gets. Good luck!
If the contract doesn't set forth the difference between a retainer and a deposit, then she is not entitled to keep it. She drafted the contract so any ambiguity is construed against her, meaning that if something is unclear, then it goes in your favor.
A retainer is a pool of money that one can draw on after services have been provided. If no services have been provided, then they are not entitled to draw from the retainer. The only problem you may run in to is that if the photographer shows evidence of any preparation or work, then she will be able to keep the sums for the retainer.
If she really has done nothing, then you should file a small claims action in your county court as you mentioned.
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