Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph”
begins with a gentle guitar melody, backed by a more emphatic rhythm guitar. The single vocal comes in without fanfare for the first verse. Singing lyrics that reflect on the difficulties of missing a loved one, Ed’s voice pulls us into an introspective moment.
The song starts to build into a pre-chorus with the help of an added piano track and soulful vocals. In the chorus, Ed breaks into falsetto while the instruments retain their steady but subdued sound.
Moving forward into the second verse and beyond, the song brings in percussion to increase intensity. This is also reflected in the vocals. Layers of instrumentation and more effects are added, building to a final soaring chorus with swirling background vocals and strings.
The outro drops into a near silence, grabbing our attention as the singer shares a final lyric full of longing.
So here’s how I interpret this hit ballad on the piano: