First, verify the SMART status of the disk. The first command will run an extended test (taking up to an hour.) The second will spit out the 'current health' of the drive, immediately after running the self test. If the drive's damaged, it won't be that helpful to attempt to rebuild the drive.
# smartctl -t long /dev/sda
smartctl -HcA /dev/sdb
From there, since you're only absolutely trying to recover photos, you could try using PhotoRec. There's a great tutorial on PhotoRec & Testdisk here:
And, of course, the obvious (but most painful when you experience it first hand) if/once you've recovered your data, and even if you haven't, making sure you have a solid backup solution is critical. It's never been so easy to copy entire partitions to a backup drive as it is with the tools available today. A 1TB drive runs $60; how many hours are you going to spend trying to recover the data you've lost, and think how much you earn an hour at your job. Not trying to preach; I've been in your shoes too.
Best of luck!