If I paid for photographs on my wedding and the photographer has supplied me only with low res files (200 kb approx for all) and says she is unable to save them edited in high res, am I entitled to ask for the raw images? I have no pictures of my wedding that I can even frame. When I asked for the raw given she can't provide anything but low res, she said she doesn't give raw files, the same as any other photographer. Legally, is this true? I would appreciate any help. Thank you!
Legally, and in typical business practices, what the photographer told you is completely true — she has no obligation to give you RAW files, unless the contract says otherwise.
Presumably, the photographer will sell you prints of her work. This is how she makes her living, after all. Kind of harsh to discover after it is too late, but if you wanted something else, you should have arranged it beforehand.
These days, many photographers will sell you high resolution digital copies, although RAW files are more rare. (See for example Copyright Was Released to All Images: Does this include all RAW photos? for a case where copyright license was given but not RAW files.) However, if the deal doesn't include the opportunity for the photographer to make money from prints, one of the following is certainly true: the price will be higher, the work not as good, or the photographer is paying the bills with some other job.
The issue of RAW vs high-quality JPEG is a separate one, but also important. RAW files are just that — unbaked data. You wouldn't go to a bakery and demand that you get the flour, sugar, and eggs with your cake. And, if you did, the baker might be justifiably concerned that you might take those, mix them up and throw them in the oven and then serve something that doesn't represent her brand — but with her name attached. You might say "but I'm the paying customer!", but, consider what you are actually paying for: the expertise and skill of the baker. Same with a photographer. If you wanted the ingredients and a recipe for printing your own photos, especially with all of the latitude RAW gives you, that's beyond the normal deal.
In any case, in the situation you are in, the photographer has all of the cards both legally and technically. And, although I sympathize with you, probably morally as well. Always read contracts and know what you are paying for.
The answer to your question isn't yes or no to "legally, is this true?" because the contract you should have signed should spell out very clearly what you're entitled to with respect to the images.
In general, the vast majority of photographers will retain copyright over their images and restrict access to the raw files. Typically, as a result, the contracts will specify the nature of the images that will be provided. These may be JPEG images, printed images, or some combination thereof. It's very rare, and usually much more costly, to get the raw images.
It is entirely up to the decision of the photographer. If you read the contract, you probably paid her to take photographs and not to give you them. By default, the photographer owns the copyrights on the images she takes and you have no rights to them other than what she grants. The details of those grants should be spelled out in your contract. If the contract doesn't explicitly mention getting anything you haven't gotten already, then you are out of luck.
It sucks that you fell victim to a contract that you didn't like, but this kind of thing is fairly typical behavior in the industry. Personally, I give high quality JPEGs of my best photos and will give RAWs on request, but I'm also an extremely permissive photographer and am not an example of the industry standard. I also don't do it as my primary source of income, so I don't need creative ways to get more money out of people beyond my initial fee.
So technically, her statement that all photographers do that is incorrect, however for many (a majority perhaps) she is correct. She is also almost certainly well within her rights to deny your request.
If I paid for photography am I entitled to raw images?
No, unless that was agreed upon beforehand.
Am I entitled to ask for the raw images?
You can ask, but unless it was agreed beforehand in contract form she's not obliged to give them. She may choose to sell them for an additional fee. She may choose not to.
she said she doesn't give raw files, the same as any other photographer.
Well, that's not completely true (though it's possible those weren't her exact words). There are some photographers who give raw files. I wouldn't say it's standard practice, or that you'd necessarily even want raw files, which of course won't contain any of the editing and retouching work you paid the photographer to do. But there are some photographers who will provide raw files.
If raw files is something you'd want, it's something you'd have to agree upon beforehand, or assume it's not part of the deal. You cannot assume that a photographer will give you raw files. And if you do want raw files, consider whether you see any benefit in the post-processing (retouching or corrections) done by the photographer because a raw file won't have any.
Some photographers may decide that they don't want to ever provide raw files as a matter of policy, and they can have legimate reasons for this:
Financial reason: their business model is that they make more money from selling prints, and charge less for the initial photography.
They feel that an important part of the service they provide is the retouching or digital editing which they do, which may even form their "personal style". If you pick a photographer because they have a unique personal style, but a big part of that is the way they edit the photos, the raw images would miss out on any of this.
They don't want potential clients seeing uncorrected versions of their work which still contain easily-corrected flaws
In most cases the photographer does not give out the RAW files. That depends on each individual photographer but the contract should definitely have information regarding this. I am not sure why someone would give out low res images maybe because they want you to purchase framed images from them so they can have a much bigger profit from your job.
As a photographer I would not release RAW images to my clients because it is unfinished work and I just want to give them a good final product that they can cherish for years.
As stated above, you say you paid for "photography" seemingly without defining what photography is explicitly. As such you're entitled to absolutely nothing that isn't explicitly mentioned in the contract signed beforehand. There is no law for RAW images, nor do you own the originals or have any rights to them, unless those rights are covered, agreed and signed in the contract.
I do weddings and I provide all photos at 5000px.
Then you get a small set that are 1500px
both on a DVD labelled small for loading quickly and large for prints etc.
If she doesn't do this for you then she has probably had the wrong setting on and recorded all small images. I don't know of any cameras that I would use that would creat a 200kb image.
She should also have a copy of pre edited images. I would go back and find out exactly what steps she performed and why she didn't back up her work as she went along?
If the advert says that they are giving digital copies of the physical photos, then it is within the consumer reasonable assumption that they are giving us the digital equivalent of a photographic film.
A photographic film can be used to produce photo of bigger size than the one that was originally commissioned to print. The digital copies should have this ability.