In 1978, at the age of 26 Bettina Rheims starts out photographing. After having worked as a model, as journalist and an art dealer, she devotes herself in 1980 solely to photography. She makes a first series of strip-tease artists and acrobats, which are shown 1981 in two personal exhibitions, at the Centre Pompidou and at the Galerie Texbraun in Paris. Encouraged by this success, she works on a series of stuffed animals portraits, which are exhibited in Paris and New York.
At the same time Bettina Rheims realizes portraits for worldwide magazines and advertisement campaigns (Well and Chanel), creates her first fashion series, cover sleeves, film posters and directs in 1986 her first advertising campaign.
In 1989 her works on women's portraits are published in a monograph, Female Trouble, and are exhibited in Germany and Japan. In the upcoming year Bettina Rheims realizes a series of portraits of androgynous teenagers, Modern Lovers, which are also edited and shown in France, Great Britain and the United States.
Her mythic series Chambre Close, which is realized between 1990 and 1992 in collaboration with Serge Bramly, meets an immense success not only in Europe but also all over the world. The book has become a bestseller in regularly reedited.
In the following years Bettina Rheims' fame started to invade all continents and she is renown now as a one of the most important photographers not only in Europe, but also in the Unites States, Japan, Korea, Australia and Moscow.
This consecration was confirmed by her series I.N.R.I. in 1999, an important photographic project retracing the main scenes of the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ realized in collaboration together with Serge Bramly. The book was published simultaneously in several countries (France, Germany, USA and Japan) and evoked a big scandal in France. The exhibition is still touring in different museums in Europe.
In 2000, Bettina Rheims publishes X’Mas, a series of photographs of young girls discovering their feminity.
Further on, in 2003 her book Shanghai, realized together with Serge Bramly after having spent 6 months in this city, is published by Robert Laffont. Bettina Rheims was portraying the city through the images of women of different backgrounds.
Her last publication MoreTrouble, published in 2004, is retracing ten years of her photography, mostly of famous women. At the same time Bettina Rheims’ work is shown in a huge retrospective, where the first venues are: Helsinki, Oslo,Vienna, Düsseldorf and Brussels.