Soft loads may not work the action, but as long as the round exits the barrel, no problem. We're talking about one shot at an apple. If you have to work the slide to eject the casing, or even if the case stove pipes, it doesn't matter for a photo. As to speed and distance, a 148 gr target load for a 38 Special target (or any) revolver can be as low as 500 FPS. That approach is probably a path to success.
I do think that soft loads are a valid suggestion, but can you walk into a store and buy them for a 9mm? I suspect not. Does the OP have the ability to hand load to 500 FPS? I have no idea. Does the OP have other guns that may give better results? I don't know. It's interesting that you mention, "but as long as the round exits the barrel." Many years ago, I shot some BB or CB caps in a 22 rifle. One round did not exit the barrel. The next round caused the barrel to balloon at the point of the obstruction, and I had to send the rifle back to the factory for a new barrel.