Default [Q] help recovering pictures - stuck in bootloop

My device is stuck in a bootloop. I can get into recovery mode and I can get into download mode. ADB does not connect in bootloop but it will connect while in recovery mode. I think I'm rooted but su from ADB recovery mode doesn't work.

The following is displayed while in download mode:
from boot menu:
product name: sgh-t999
custom binary download: yes (1 counts)
current binary: custom
system status: custom


While in ADB in recovery mode I can't seem to get root (su doesn't work).
I can't root my device because I don't know what version of rom to root to.
I thought my device was rooted but it doesn't act rooted in adb.
I'm willing to reroot but I don't know what version to reroot to.

Is rooting the os and rooting the recovery partition different?
Can I install a custom recovery without wiping the device?

My end goal is to get my pictures. Everything else is replaceable. Yes.... I should have had them all backed up. Got it..... let's please move on.

So how do I recover the pictures or get out of bootloop or gain recovery mode root given the limited information that I have.

Thanks in advance for any and all help with this one,

Channon