Blogger faces backlash over 'staged' photos taken during motorcycle accident

Elizabeth Di Filippo
Tiffany Mitchel. Image via Twitter.
Tiffany Mitchel. Image via Twitter.

A Nashville-based blogger has come under fire for her decision to share what many believe are staged photos from a recent motorcycle accident.

On July 31, Tiffany Mitchell took to Instagram to share professional photos taken after she crashed her motorcycle during an afternoon ride with friends. The photo series, taken by photographer Lindsey Grace Whiddon, began with a smiling, carefree Mitchell leaning and laughing against her bike before showing the fallen rider being tended to on the side of the road by a male friend.

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Mitchell, who has more than 210,000 Instagram followers, wrote a lengthy caption describing the “scary, magical series of events” that left her without serious injuries and only minor cuts burns.

Image via Twitter.
Image via Twitter.

“I had my helmet on so my head was fine, but I scraped up my left side,” Mitchell wrote. “I was in absolute shock laying on the side of the road. Scroll through the pics to see how much of it Lindsey captured! Unreal. I was scared, and relieved, and so thankful I could move all my joints and that I never lost consciousness.”

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The post quickly drew criticism with many questioning whether Mitchell and her friends staged the accident or had the post sponsored by Smartwater, since the brand’s bottle was featured in one of the photos.

Mitchell’s photo and caption was shared in the Reddit group r/blogsnark, with many calling into question the authenticity of the entire post.

Image via Twitter.
Image via Twitter.

“Genuinely I am perplexed by the idea of a friend snapping angles right next to your head post-motorcycle crash…,” a user wrote. “It makes me feel sorry for them that every moment of their life is an ad, and also this girl is extremely dumb and lucky for not having serious road rash on account of her lack of interest in wearing a jacket or a good helmet, because sparkly fashion helmets and on trend overalls are more aesthetically pleasing than lifesaving motorcycle gear.”

“I’m assuming this is a post-accident staged photoshoot,” another added, while others called it “the tackiest thing I’ve seen this month.”

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In an interview with BuzzFeed News Mitchell shot down allegations of the incident being staged, adding she “would never turn a very important personal story like this into a brand campaign.”

Image via Twitter.
Image via Twitter.

BuzzFeed noted that Mitchell requested the story be scraped, out of fear of the negative attention it would bring. She took to her own Instagram account to address the controversy in a series of Stories.

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“A lot of the comments on that post were wonderful and supportive and encouraging and beautiful. But I did start getting a few more negative comments questioning why I would take photos during an accident,” Mitchell said.

The blogger denied the post was associated with any brand, and insisted that “no photos were taken until my friends made sure I was OK.”

Image via Twitter.
Image via Twitter.

Mitchell, an avid rider, said she practices road safety and never rides without pants, boots and a helmet. “If you’re going to get your motorcycle licence take the safety course first,” she advised followers. “They teach you how to ride safely and fall safely.”

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The attention regarding the post has upset Mitchell, who assured her followers that there was never any intention to incite negativity.

“I archived the post because if there is a lot of attention brought to my feed because of that, I don’t want to leave that really vulnerable thing that I shared open to any kind of hatred. I want to protect that…,” she explained of her decision to remove the post. “If you’re following my Instagram I’m assuming it’s because you want to see my thoughts about my life.. It was just one of those honest moments that I was putting out there because it’s all been this wonderful practice of vulnerability and openness.”

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