Congregants were 'robbed of their sacred space' but not ruined. The story behind this photo

Members of the Greater Union Baptist Church stand for a portrait in front of the ruins of their church in Opelousas, Louisiana, on April 10.

(CNN)Photojournalist Edmund D. Fountain wanted to convey how members of three black Louisiana churches, which police say were intentionally torched, were "robbed of their sacred space."

So, he shot a picture of 30 members of Greater Union Baptist Church standing alongside the charred rubble of their nearly 130-year-old church in Opelousas, west of Baton Rouge.
But that wasn't his initial plan.
The 38-year-old freelance photojournalist based in New Orleans, was dispatched this week to rural St. Landry Parish, where the fires took place over a 10-day span.
    St. Mary Baptist Church burned first on March 26. Greater Union was set on fire on April 2 and Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church was set ablaze on April 4.
    Fountain said he first thought of shooting group portraits of the congregations to "portray them as a community."
    He settled on Greater Union Baptist and floated the idea to Rev. Harry Richard and other church members. But Fountain said he was unsure who would show up.
      "All these cars kept pulling up," he recalled.
      "I was really honored that the congregation saw value in what I was trying to do and showed up because they didn't have to," Fountain said.