As you have already read, the chances are slim to none. Because the phone has sat for so long now, plus tinkering with it out of frustration, moisture and pressure points have been created internally making the object obsolete.
Contacts: you can use a sim card retrieval option in debugging mode. If the sim was locked with password it may have become corrupt and won't allow entry. As tough as they are, one mili-micro scratch and it's over.
The other way is to go, in person, and if on contract, to the wireless service provider and clarify you would like to sign forms to recover the last year's worth of calling. Incoming and Receiving. Detailed billing for that amount of time takes a little while and here in Canada, forms need to be filled out for a back log request like that.
Photos: If you are dead set on recovering photos, the suggestions above, from our fellow iFixit members are a start. Hopefully during those time of frustration you learned the #1 rule of all computing; back up, back up, back up data and when that's completed weekly, back it up some more.
The most secure way and private way is to run a cloud environment from your home network and tunnel into it from your device where ever you are. If you want to to skip all the protocols, you can use remote desktop apps with number algorithm security sessions to log into your box, netbook, tablet or even another cell phone at home.
This should ensure peace of mind. Plus it's dedicated to just you so depending on your capped upload and download speeds from the ISP, will determine how it performs. Speed.
Now that I have stated the obvious for future prevention, your current photos have a slim chance of being recovered. Drying out your device should be air dried only. Low traffic area at your residence. (Dust, pollens, etc.). Using rice is just silly and a waste of food (pet peeve).
Try a couple recovery options online. Or what has been mentioned above.
If the photos mean that much to you, bring it in to the pros and get another opinion. Note* it can be costly. They may even tell you it's not worth it.