Working since the early 1980’s, Rheims unique relationship with the models and her vision of the strength and fragility in each one of them led her to shoot some of the most famous women in the world, such as Madonna, Kate Moss, Sharon Stone, Charlotte Rampling, Catherine Deneuve, Marianne Faithfull, Monica Bellucci, Kylie Minogue and many others. As well as taking portraits of celebrities for international magazines, Bettina Rheims has also worked on advertising campaigns for fashion and Luxury brands, such as Chanel, Lancôme, Omega and Dior.
Rheims is dividing her time between commissions and her personal projects. More recently, she spent one year in Prison photographing inmates for one of her latest series named Détenues.
A number of institutions have held retrospective exhibitions of her work: the Kunsthal, Rotterdam and the Moscow House of Photography, Moscow (2008), the C/O in Berlin and the FORMA in Milan (2008), the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris and the Fotografiska Museet in Stockholm (2016). She has also exhibited in many internationally well-known galleries.
Rheims has published more than 20 books including Female Trouble, Chambre Close, Modern Lovers, Gender Studies and Rose c’est Paris before the retrospective book which brings together more than 500 photographs taken over the course of her 35-year career was published by Taschen Editions in 2016.
In 1995, Rheims took the official portrait of the French President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac. He awarded her with the ensign of Officier de la Légion d’honneur for her work in 2007.