Obviously this is an image of a sunflower as it is dying. The concept is based on symbolism—I assume that you will associate this withered sunflower with loss in a human. That may seem obvious but when you think about it there are many factors that can block this simple idea. Cultural differences are potentially the biggest hurdle. To us, the bright yellow of a sunflower symbolizes optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. “Yellow signifies “sadness” in Greece’s culture and “jealousy” in France’s culture”. 1 Here, in the U.S. we see the withered sunflower and understand it means loss of happiness, etc.
The lines on the petals are one of the most basic formal elements in image making of any kind. Every type of line is a gesture. And the selective focus means that your eye is immediately drawn to that part of the image first. Yes, our brains do prefer focus over blur. Finally, the detail of the petals—their curves and curled edges—further emphasize the concept.