I'm just noticing that when I am on meta.photo my reputation carries over from photo, but not my badges. Is it supposed to operate like that or is that potentially a bug?
It's how it works. You can get badges for Meta, but reputation is strictly based on the main site. I found it confusing at first too, but it makes sense when you think about it since this is about how the main site should operate and your reputation on the main site gives you privileges here as a result.
All sites mirror reputation from the main site to meta, except for the main meta.stackoverflow (because it serves as the meta site for StackOverflow and also any general questions about Stack Exchange)