Yes, that would have been a good plan, to eliminate other factors. I did at one point try reversing roles by having the Moteino act as the receiver and the photon as the transmitter, but obviously with the rfm96hcw not connected it never would have worked in a million years.
My plan for this is to make the photon a gateway and also an MQTT agent so that it will convert all my sensor data to MQTT payloads to feed into a Mosquito Server. It's also going to have a BME280 to measure the indoor temp/humidity and barometric pressure for my weewx weather station so it's going to be a very busy photon, good thing it wont be running on batteries. The moteino is actually replacing the P1 that was in my weather station because that guy is on battery with a solar panel, and I want more realtime monitoring with rain and wind, so the lower power moteino made more sense here especially since it wont be running wifi.
I'll probably start a new thread with my build, but I will certainly reference this one as it was very helpful.