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“Photograph” is a beautiful romantic song by Ed Sheeran and talks about the challenges of long-distance relationships.

It was inspired by Ed being away from his own girlfriend at the time while he was touring.

This “Photograph” piano tutorial will walk you through the song step-by-step. It’s a beautiful song to play on the piano, especially for a loved one.

The most difficult thing is that it’s in the key of E, so we have 4 sharps! But that’s ok!!

Because this is a pop song remember. So we also only have 4 chords. The chords you’ll need are E major, C# minor, B major and A major.

Let’s talk about the hardest part of the song…

The intro riff

This riff is difficult because it starts on the off-beat, and includes a few black keys. But there is only one riff, and it simply repeats over the different chord progressions.

I find it really helps to count the 8th notes out loud. So each measure will sound like: One – and – Two – and – Three – and Four – and.

This might take a bit of practice, and I would encourage you the spend the time getting it right because honestly, the rest of the song is super simple compared to this.

Especially …

The chord progressions

I have talked so many times about common chord progressions.  Two of the most common chord progressions are used in this song. One for the verse, and the other for the chorus.

The verse follows the 1-6-5-4 progression, and the chorus uses the 1-5-6-4 (which is the most common progression in pop).

The only change is the pre-chorus, but that still uses the same 4 chords as the rest of the song.

This is a pop song, through and through.

Practice tips

There are ways you can make this song easier or harder, depending on your skill level. If you just want to sing along it helps to keep the chording and rhythm simple.

If you want to sound more complicated you can explore different chord inversions and even play broken chords in your right hand.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our “Photograph” piano tutorial. For more tutorials of popular piano songs make sure you visit the song tutorial section of our blog!

Have fun!


Lisa Witt

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 18 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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