In 1981 her first exhibition featuring strip-tease artists and acrobats appeared at the Centre Pompidou and at the Galerie Texbraun in Paris. Encouraged by the success of her first show, Rheims produced a series of images of stuffed animals which were also exhibited in Paris and later in New York.
Her powerful portraits of women taken from the 1989 monograph, Female Trouble, were exhibited in Germany and Japan; Rheims then turned the camera on androgynous teenagers. The portraits titled Modern Lovers (1990), were exhibited in France, England and the USA.
Rheims’ collaboration on several books with famed writer Serge Bramly has also brought her further international recognition. Chambre Close (1992) - featuring intimate portraits of women with prose written by Bramly became a best seller and is regularly re-edited.
In 1999 her book I.N.R.I., the life of Jesus Christ is retraced using portraits of young people, including women, in Biblical scenes.
Rheims continues to shoot beautiful photographs and to publish books. Additionally she has worked on editorials for magazines such as Elle, L’Officiel, Citizen K, Tatler, 10 magazine and Marie Claire. She has also shot advertising campaigns for Chanel, Lancôme, Diane Von Furstenberg, Bebe and Well.